BIOTRANSFORM researchers and regional experts in Finland are working on the transition of the forest industry towards a more efficient circular bio-based economy

During spring 2023 the status of the circular bio-based transition of forest industry in Finland,

was extensively analysed by the BIOTRANSFORM researchers using public data sources. The volume of biomass in side-streams and waste fractions, possible transition pathways and barriers of current economies to achieve relevant sustainability goals were studied as well as,governance and policies concerning the forestry sector and funding possibilities and perspectives were also clarified.

Finland has a clear Circular Bioeconomy strategy for its massive forest industry taking into consideration the risks and sustainability, cascading residuals into production and always involving the local stakeholder actors in the decision making. Finland has a rather complete strategy with a special interest to help finance and R&D innovation activities related to forestry. Finland is rather advanced in managing its resources with a policy that thinks ahead. However, some environmental limitations like loss of biodiversity should be seriously considered. This is important for every intensive economic activity exploiting natural resources.

The current status of the forest industry was presented to and further discussed with stakeholders in two info days and 5 interviews organised by VTT. In total 13 experts from companies, authority organisations and other organisations gave input to this work. Additional information was collected, especially regarding side-streams not being efficiently utilised. Previously untapped forestry production by-products were pinpointed for their significant, yet unrealized, potential.  Those include green liquor dregs, ash, lignin (in black liquor), useful chemicals (which could be recovered from the wood chips and bark before energy recovery), and hemicelluloses.

Based on the learnings, the researchers selected the black liquor side-stream from pulp production to be further examined; more precisely the lignin extraction from black liquor and utilisation as value added product instead of current incineration (energy recovery).

In April 2024 two workshops in Finland were organized with altogether 11 regional experts. Three potential utilisation pathways for extracted lignin were selected. Experts discussed funding opportunities, communication needs towards decision-makers and needed policy measures, and also the educational needs became important. The low price of fossil-based raw materials that makes more sustainable solutions hard to compete was also noted in the discussion. The development of market mechanisms can help favour these solutions.

The work continues now in such a way that the three tools developed in the project will be used to evaluate the selected pathways.





Funded by the European Union under GA no.101081833. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. The granting authority cannot be held responsible for them