A sustainable world is a modern world

Feb 24, 2022

Living in the present with awareness of the future. With the humanity, economy, and the environment in balance. That’s what being sustainable means for Ulf Johnsson, a true spokesperson for a more environmentally friendly tissue making process.

Sustainable world

Ulf has always been interested in the areas of energy and water consumption and its impact on the environment, and especially finding opportunities to use less in the manufacturing process. However, once having children it became even more meaningful for Ulf to encourage solutions that could make a difference for the future. “It’s important to remember that the choices we make today are affecting what we leave behind for our children and grandchildren,” says Ulf. “I believe all of us should have that in mind when we make decisions.”

After many years as a consultant, working with large scope projects and process support for several global producers in the paper and forest-products industry, a position at Valmet became available. Ulf jumped on the opportunity to work with tissue production, which he had become especially interested in over the years. This was a chance to gain deeper knowledge and to focus more long-term.

“What attracted me to Valmet, is still accurate today,” he says. “It’s the knowledgeable and experienced people throughout the entire chain - from idea to final product.” He also appreciates the great teamwork.

I truly feel that we are working towards a common goal of making the tissue making process better.”

Taking a visionary roll

Ulf has always been an advocate for optimizing energy efficiency and water savings. Although sustainability has not been his main responsibly in the various roles he has held in Valmet, he would naturally, whenever he got a chance, bring up the subject. One could say he’s been an ambassador for these topics as he’s taken a visionary role inspiring both colleagues and customers. He is, and has been, a valued presenter in various events, both external and in Valmet’s own seminars.


Ulf presenting at the Tissue Talks LIVE event

“I believe that how we act can truly influence people in a positive direction to take more responsibility. As a person I think I’m seen as the diplomatic advisor. I’ve really be going on and on about being mindful of our resources and sometimes I felt I was ahead of my time”. Finally, Ulf now sees this topic on top of everyone’s agenda. In the last couple of year there’s been a significant shift, both in Valmet and among our customers to level up. In addition, regulations are enforced even more rapidly from a political standpoint. Climate related topics have a more prominent role in media, in politics, among consumers and for companies.

Providing the best available solutions

Valmet has been working on reducing the environmental footprint for a long time. The focus has mainly been on water, energy and fibre consumption. In the tissue making process, Valmet has since the 90’s, been able to reduce the water consumption by 80% and the energy consumption by almost 50%.

Valmet has a long experience and with our professionals all over the world we really do have the knowledge. Not only about one specific market or region but world-wide. However, working as a team with our customers is essential. And with Valmet’s complete offer of technology, automation, and service solutions we can together provide the best available solutions.

To put emphasis on the climate challenge and to create even more awareness Valmet have recently launched the Tissue CO2 campaign.

We can now show concrete examples of how our solutions can contribute to a more sustainable tissue production, in terms of reducing energy, water, fiber and lower the CO2 emission.”

Taking responsibility beyond expectation

When asked about what motivates Ulf in his daily work, his first response is about seeing people thrive, be happy and achieve great things together. He adds,” I’m also motivated about the fact that I know we can make a difference. Even the smallest change in technology matters if it can lead to something bigger in the long run.”

Ulf continues, “It’s admirable that many of our customers are asking for solutions which are more efficient in terms of emission levels than what their local regulations require.” Smaller tissue producers tend to take a great responsibility for the community – beyond what’s expected. The bigger companies have the channels to reach large groups of people with an important message. Likewise, Valmet has always been determined to never compromise on specific requirements – even if it means losing a project. “For companies, having sustainability on top of the agenda today is not optional, it’s a must for future existence.”

Your choice matters

When bringing up potential setbacks in the transition to a carbon neutral future Ulf is mostly worried about the time. Are we moving quick enough? Are we globally aligned to manage the transition within the timeframe we have left? This is not a one man show, or a one country show. “As consumers, each one of us has a responsibility to make educated decisions and together we have the power to put pressure on companies and politicians. Your choice matters”. Ulf wants us to remember that we are working towards a larger goal that is more important than one individual person.

In your professional role, when developing new products. Ask yourself, could I make this product with less?”

How to lower water consumption has traditionally been one of the most addressed questions in dialog with customers. Especially as we have many customers in regions where water is a scarce resource. Another challenge is how to save energy. Previously it was connected to the high cost of purchasing energy. Today, cost of CO2 emission and the importance of presenting a circular business model have been added to that equation. In addition, we have seen an increased interested in learning about annual crops, or local non-wood fibers.

The future is in our hands

Ulf strongly believes that Valmet will continue to show the way and to stay ahead. We should present the best available options and in addition to being a technology provider elevate our advisory role. “We understand that our customers must make their own decisions, but we should inform about available alternatives.”

Valmet’s customers have seen a steady demand for high quality products as a main driver for the consumers’ willingness to purchase. Now consumers are becoming more interested in the environmental impact of the product – but this is not without struggle. Ulf understands the challenge a consumer might face to really know if a product is produced in a sustainable way and wish there could be something that could help consumers to make smart decisions. That products could be labeled with unbiased information.

“I want people to be presented with alternatives that are better for the environment,” he says. We need to strive for a circular society with recyclable or compostable raw materials and use climate neutral energy to keep the process going. “The purpose is not to go back in time, our aim should be to live in a modern sustainable world and aim for a better future,” concludes Ulf.


Text: Anna Boström Mora