UPM’s Baltic Sea Commitment

/ 19.03.2016

Use of recycled nutrients at biological waste water treatment plants by 2030

Organisation: UPM-Kymmene Corporation

Time: 3/2016 – 12/2020


UPM – Wikipedia



UPM integrates bio and forest industries and builds a sustainable future for across six business areas. UPM´s products are made of renewable raw materials and are recyclable. UPM has 21 production plants in 13 countries.

Pulp and paper mill effluents contain a lot of organic matter, which is removed at a biological (activated sludge) waste water treatment plant prior to being discharged. However, the effluents are poor in nutrients and biological waste water treatment requires addition of nutrients to keep the bacteria active.

UPM’s pulp and paper mills with own biological waste water treatment plants commit globally to use only recycled nutrients by 2030. In Finland, the target is expected to be achieved by 2020.

Currently, most of the nutrients used are purchased as ready-made trade names. UPM aims to find recycled nutrients from local sources, thus reducing local eutrophication in the best case and in any case promoting circular economy.

The implementation strategy is as follows:
1) Current status of used nutrients at all 21 mills (global)
2) Literature check of possible potential  alternative recycled nutrients
3) Surveys of possible potential local partners
4) Set-up of pilot
5) A series of pilot trials at different plants globally

In addition, UPM donates 10 000 EUR to the Baltic Sea Action Group in 2016.



  1. Status update December 2016. Project was started in 2016, one site almost reached the level already. UPM Rauma mill co-treats its own effluents and those from the city. Nearly 100% of the nitrogen and phosphorus present in the city’s effluents can be reused at the co-treatment plant, meaning that they no longer contribute to eutrophication of the sea. The waste heat derived from the effluents is used to dry out sludge from the treatment plant, which, in turn, is used for energy and heating production in the city of Rauma. The ash generated during this process is reused for landscaping applications. In autumn 2016, Raki2, a nutrient recycling programme run by the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, provided the funding for a joint project established by UPM together with the fertiliser and crop nutrition expert Yara. The project focuses on the possibilities for reusing nutrients in agriculture. These nutrients are retrieved from the sludge generated by the pulp and paper mill’s effluent treatment plants, as well as ash from the incineration process.
  2. Status update December 2017. Project started in 2016. After 2017, 17% of nutrient used globally at biological waste water treatment plants were from recycled sources and 7 mills are using those regularly. • The main challenge is to find suitable nutrient sources from the vicinity of the mills.
  3. Status update December 2018. The Commitment has progressed well: in 2018, already 22 per cent of all nutrients in the scope of the Commitment are recycled. UPM is utilising nutritious sidestreams from other local operators.
  4. Status update December 2019.
  5. Status update December 2020.