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Material flow analysis of the Finnish forest industry

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Title: Material flow analysis of the Finnish forest industry
Author(s): Soilampi, Valtteri
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
Degree program: Master 's Programme in Forest Sciences
Specialisation: Forest bioeconomy business and policy
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2023
Forests play a significant role in global carbon dynamics and thus in mitigating climate change. By utilizing wood products and fuels, more GHG intensive materials can be replaced. However, the question of how to utilize wood to maximize its climate benefits is by no means straightforward, in terms of whether wood plays a more significant part in the forest as a carbon storage, or to what extent it makes sense to process it into wood products. In this thesis, a material flow analysis (MFA) of Finnish forest industry was produced. MFA brings together the key material flows of the Finnish forest industry including primary raw material flows and side streams. Mapping side streams plays an important role in the evaluation of wood products substitution benefits, as up to half of all wood raw material used by the forest industry ends up as a side stream. By utilizing side streams according to cascading principles could significantly enhance the forest industry climate benefits. The purpose of the thesis is to produce added value for the evaluation of substitution effects by collecting and visualizing data that helps with estimating substitution benefits of wood use, i.e., determining displacement factors. MFA found out that in 2020, the majority of wood utilized in Finland was used as energy, with 55.8% of total wood use being converted into energy. Altogether 70% of this use were inside the forest industry to cover industry's own energy needs. Inside the industry wood were used efficiently and according to cascading principles, thus no wood was combusted at the primary stage of processes. However, according to MFA, in total more than 70% of all forest industry side steams were combusted and converted into energy at the first circulation round. The side streams that were not utilized by combustion (27%) were refined into other products i.e. pulp and biofuels. Hence, in order to maximize the climate benefits of utilizing wood, it is essential to prioritize the use of wood for products and usages that have the highest possible substitution effect. Additionally, it is crucial to consider the distribution of wood energy use in the future, as utilizing wood-based energy for primary product production yields no additional substitution benefits. This can be achieved by utilizing cascading principles and by prioritizing the use of side streams for other purposes. By doing so, the overall climate benefits of utilizing wood can be enhanced.
Keyword(s): Substitution impact Harvested wood products (HWP) Side streams By-products Material Flow Analysis (MFA)

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