My role in sustainability: Working for sustainability goals

Working with sustainable development was one of the main reasons I started to study environmental and energy engineering at the university, and one of the main reasons I wanted to work for Valmet after my graduation. In my opinion, Valmet has always highlighted sustainable development in its business goals.

I work as a Specialist in Chemical Modelling at Valmet and achieving sustainability goals is the main motivator for me. Since my tasks focus on resource efficiency and the switch from fossil to renewable fuels, it is easy to find energy to work even in the busiest days.

It also helps to see that sustainability motivates my colleagues as well. In our team discussions, sustainability is actually considered one of the main values affecting our team’s behavior.

Aiming for sustainable changes at leisure and work

Even though my work is focusing on developing sustainable technologies, I still sometimes feel I’m not doing enough. Change to more sustainable personal habits has been quite easy, since I haven’t eaten red meat for more than 10 years, I recycle, and I buy new things as seldom as I can.

But when it comes to things I enjoy, such as travelling, acting sustainably becomes more difficult. Nevertheless, I try to minimize flying and cruising on my free time. (Yes, the Swedish term “flygskam”, flight shame for translated, has caught up with some of us Finns too.)

At work, limiting the amount of air mileage is even more difficult, because travelling to project sites and customers just must be done. But luckily Valmet is following its CO2 emissions from business travel, and employees are encouraged to take environmental impacts into account when making travelling choices. I hope it will become easier in the future to compare the CO2 emissions of different travel options, in addition to their costs.

Other positive changes at work have been the elimination of disposable plastic spoons from our office, and the increasing number of parking places for bicycles. I would also like to see more visibility for the good-quality vegetarian food in our employee restaurant, since it still seems to be a hidden gem for many.

A connection between company mission and personal work

Valmet’s mission “Converting renewable resources into sustainable results” is concretely connected to my work. I have managed to work my entire career with technologies using renewable fuels, but recently the focus has clearly shifted from burning just any biomass to burning and refining waste and side streams.

There are several megatrends affecting Valmet’s business, namely “Resource efficient and clean word”, “Digitalization and new technologies” and “Urban, responsible and global consumer”. All of these are also related to my work. Especially the two first ones, as I am using simulation tools to develop and study new more sustainable technologies. I also believe that working for resource efficiency and digitalization can help the consumers to use natural resources more responsibly. For example, consuming recycled goods or energy produced from waste streams is sustainable, as well as using digital tools to optimize processes and make them more energy efficient.

In the future, I hope to be able to continue working with sustainable resources. I am very interested in developing different types of waste and side streams into useful products and sources of energy, and I am happy to see that Valmet is also moving in this same direction.

Aino Vettenranta
Specialist, Chemical Modelling