A hundred-year perspective on sustainability

/INS. The brownish water and dead seabeds are gone. This year Iggesund Paperboard, manufacturer of the paperboards Invercote and Incada, can look back on a century’s unique performance record on sustainability. Iggesund Mill opened its first pulp mill in 1916, which was expanded to become an integrated pulp and paperboard mill in 1963.

“I’m proud to have the privilege of working for a company whose environmental efforts are characterised by both a long-term approach and a sense of responsibility,” comments Anna Mårtensson, Environmental Manager at Iggesund Paperboard’s Swedish production facility, Iggesund Mill. “Today our environmental impact is almost non-existent compared with the situation just over 50 years ago.”
When Iggesund built its first pulp mill in 1916, environmental legislation did not exist and companies were basically free to release fibre waste and chemicals into the air and water. During the mill’s first 50 years this caused a significant negative effect on the local environment. The first emissions limits were set in 1963, symbolically the same year that biologist Rachel Carson’s famous book about the influence of pesticides on nature, Silent Spring, was published and became the alarm clock that laid the foundation of today’s environmental movement.

“By the mid-1960s the combined emissions of process chemicals and cellulose fibres had turned the seabed around the mill into a desert,” Mårtensson continues. “The water smelled bad and was a brownish colour. Sensitive species at the top of the marine ecosystem’s nutrient chains had disappeared from the mill’s vicinity.”
Since the 1960s the mill’s effect on the local environment has continually been improved, driven by both economic and environmental demands. Today’s processes make more efficient use of the timber raw material, leading to a better use of resources and less release of organic material. Today having chemical emissions at the levels of the 1950s would be inconceivable; instead, more than 99 per cent of the process chemicals are recycled. Since the 1970s, Iggesund’s water purification measures have been built up into a three-stage process: mechanical, biological and finally chemical purification almost identical to that used to produce drinking water.

“Experts say the solution we have at Iggesund Mill is the best available technology,” Mårtensson adds. “Above all, it has radically reduced our emissions of sulphur and phosphorus, which are particularly important since our water goes out into the Baltic Sea, which is threatened by eutrophication.”

The mill’s airborne emissions have developed in the same direction – the levels of acidifying sulphur or eutrophying nitrogen are down to levels where their local environmental impact is hard to document.

“People can catch edible food fish in the water surrounding the mill,” Mårtensson says. “Using chemical analysis it is impossible to distinguish those fish from fish caught in reference areas far from industrial sites. We are very pleased to see how species like sea eagles and seals, which had disappeared from near the mill, have now returned.”
Sulphur emissions are one example of how the systematic environmental work has developed over time. In 1988 Iggesund Mill emitted 1.98 kilos of sulphur per tonne of pulp produced. Today’s emissions are just over six per cent of that, at 0.13 kilos per tonne. The corresponding value for the total amount of sulphur emitted per year has gone down from 540 annual tonnes to about 44 annual tonnes. This means that total sulphur emissions have fallen by 92 per cent despite a 25 per cent production increase over the same period.

In the past five years Iggesund Paperboard has also invested SEK 3.4 billion (EUR 360 million, GBP 225 million) to make its facilities in Sweden and the UK almost entirely fossil free by switching the energy source at the mills in Iggesund and Workington to bioenergy.

Caption: “From the 1960s and onwards we have steadily reduced our local environmental impact even though our production has increased,” comments Anna Mårtensson, Environmental Manager at Iggesund Paperboard’s Swedish production facility, Iggesund Mill. “Iggesund has every reason to be proud of this development as well as the fact that the mill now runs almost exclusively on fossil-free energy.” © Iggesund


Iggesund Paperboard is part of the Swedish forest industry group Holmen, one of the world’s 100 most sustainable companies listed on the United Nations Global Compact Index. Iggesund’s turnover is just over €500 million and its flagship product Invercote is sold in more than 100 countries. The company has two brand families, Invercote and Incada, both positioned at the high end of their respective segments. Since 2010 Iggesund has invested more than €380 million to increase its energy efficiency and reduce the fossil emissions from its production.

Iggesund and the Holmen Group report all their fossil carbon emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project. The environmental data form an integral part of an annual report that complies with the Global Reporting Initiative’s highest level of sustainability reporting. Iggesund was founded as an iron mill in 1685, but has been making paperboard for more than 50 years. The two mills, in northern Sweden and northern England employ 1500 people.

Further information:

Staffan Sjöberg
Public Relations Manager

Iggesund Paperboard
SE-825 80 Sweden
Tel: +4665028256
Mobile: +46703064800


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Head office Iggesund Paperboard
Iggesund Paperboard AB
SE-825 80 Iggesund
Sweden / Sverige
Phone: +46 650 280 00
Fax: +46 650 288 00



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Staffan Sjöberg
Phone: +46 650 282 56
Mobile: +46 70 306 48 00


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The Iggesund Mill

Making the world’s best paperboard is easy. You need water, carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow a seedling into a tree. Then you need sustainable forest management that can deliver first-class timber. There must be a pulp mill and a paperboard mill, and then distribution channels to get the paperboard to everyone who wants to use it. Most important of all, though, to the manufacture of Invercote are the skilled professionals who do their best – people who are proud of what they achieve and do not compromise on the quality of their work. Iggesunds Mill has traditions stretching back to 1685. Throughout that time dedicated individuals have done their utmost to use the renewable forest to benefit other people.

A world-class mill

Iggesund Mill (including Strömsbruk Mill) in Sweden is one of the most advanced, fully integrated pulp and paperboard mills in the world. Not least thanks to our long term majority owner, we have very well invested mills. There are many benefits having an integrated saw mill – we manage raw material together and we can use all the waste from their production to either make pulp or energy. In return we feed the saw mill with steam used to dry the timber. At Iggesund Mill, 100% of the pulp used to make Invercote is produced on location and pumped wet to the board machine. This means that we use no market pulp. Not drying the pulp preserves some mechanical properties of the fibres.

This advanced technology – hundreds of metres of paperboard machines – is controlled by employees with various forms of special expertise. The machines work around the clock and year round to produce tonne after tonne of dazzling white paperboard. Technical perfection and numerical control processes are all well and good but for excellent results you also need team spirit and a good working atmosphere. Invercote’s unique properties are the result of the interplay between expertise, a positive spirit and cutting-edge technology.

Actively investing in bioenergy

In 2012 the new recovery boiler was inaugurated at Iggesund Mill, an investment made possible by the long term perspective of our majority owner. With it in operation, the mill produces all the heat it needs, and can also provide district heating to the nearby community. It also produces nearly all the electricity needed for the mill, and is connected to the grid to be able to output excess electricity if needed. As the new boiler was trimmed into operation, it drastically reduced a lot of emissions between 2013 and 2014: fossil CO2 by >85%, particles by ~45% and sulphur by ~35%

With the installation and trimming of the new recovery boiler, emissions to air have reduced drastically from already low levels – graph being updated shortly. Measurements have shown that only 1% of particles in the air of Iggesund village comes from the mill. The majority of particles comes from domestic fire places and cars.

Care for our customers and their businesses

Paperboard must be there when the customer needs it. All the quality features in the world are meaningless if the deliveries don’t arrive in time. Delivery precision is a high priority. A maritime transport system guarantees overseas customers receive shipments with the lowest possible environmental impact. The service doesn’t stop there. Every tonne of Invercote comes with access to documentation and knowledge about how to make best use of the paperboard. The knowledge and market-based technical support provided by Iggesund, help customers to achieve dazzling end results and optimal production economics.