Perspectives on product safety

​Experts on product safety from throughout Metsä Group – as well as customer organisation CP Kelco – share their views on this crucial area.

12/2017 TEXT: IAN FENTON, IMAGES: METSÄ GROUP, CP KELCO, ETS, SHUTTERSTOCK

​During World War II, food shortages in Finland led to one of the country’s more unusual forestry innovations, when people took to using ground tree bark in place of flour when baking their bread. It’s a story often repeated in the forestry industries here, but one which still resonates well with Finland’s reputation for supplying clean, fresh Nordic fibre as well as pulp, papers and board derived from them. 

It may be surprising to learn, however, that the story also tells us something about product safety in the pulp sector today. Diving into the topic with several key personnel at Metsä Group, we come to understand that the demands of the food industry have shaped product safety requirements in every aspect of the group companies’ production. Could it be, then, that everything Metsä Group produces is good enough to eat?

paper rolls

Early standard setters IN FOOD CONTACT PRODUCTS

The safety standards established by the food industry represent the foundation of product safety at Metsä Fibre’s mills. In fact, the company was among the first in the industry to adopt them, with all its production facilities being granted the globally recognised ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System certification as early as 2003.

“The requirements for materials designed for food contact are very similar to those enforced upon food itself,” says Thomas Fant, Customer Service Manager at Metsä Fibre. “Everything that touches food is, of course, a concern, and in the cases of large brand owners, for whom the brand is such a valuable asset – risking any aspect of how they are perceived is simply not an option.”

As Marjatta Punkka, Product Safety Manager at Metsä Board, explains, product safety is not a metric; it is an absolutely fundamental part of the offering, and necessarily so.

“Product safety is an essential aspect of this business,” she points out. “The requirements, of course, come from food protection needs and the certification standards, but also directly from the customers as well. These strict requirements are the same for all Metsä Group’s businesses for food or other sensitive end uses. These needs must be considered in the total supply chain – from the raw materials to the mills and further onwards.”confectionary

The customer viewpoint ON PRODUCT SAFETY

With product safety an area of such extreme scrutiny and attention to detail, the customer’s own perspective is evidently of guiding importance. Oliver Ruppert, Senior Technology Manager at CP Kelco – who have established a plant as a major part of the eco system surrounding Metsä Fibre’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill – views product safety as both a mainstay and an area of constant development to be conscious of continually.

“While product and food safety have been always a key part of our company’s focus areas and one of the cornerstones of running a sustainable business, there is a growing trend in customer requirements to validate implemented product safety standards.”

But where is the redoubled emphasis coming from? According to Ruppert, the global trend towards sustainability is exerting an influence. “Sustainability goes hand in hand with the product safety trend. A shift in the mind-set of the population towards more healthy lifestyles and foods of higher quality is a key driver.”

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), says Ruppert, has placed an increased emphasis on the food supply chain. “Our employees receive training, based on global standards, linking food safety with personal safety and sustainability.  With their intimate knowledge of the process, many of our improvements are also driven by the workforce.”

To help accommodate these rising demands, CP Kelco has high expectations of its raw materials suppliers. “Cellulose used for our food grades needs to come from clean warehouses and stay clean during transportation,” explains Ruppert. “Also, the cellulose as such must fulfil high standards and be consistent in quality. This applies equally to non-food applications, where consistency of quality can be just as critical as in instances where food contact occurs.tissue paper

Quality assured: Fresh fibre, MONITORING AND TRACKING, CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT, TRAINED PERSONNEL

Metsä Fibre’s ability to deliver on such stringent expectations comes down to two factors.

Firstly, the raw material itself: fresh fibre made from wood harvested in northern, sustainably managed forests. Notorious for its quality, this material is analysed, checked and tracked from the forest onwards. And let’s not forget that Metsä Group as an entity has the rare advantage of overseeing the entire supply chain under one roof, from wood to pulp, to board or tissue.

Secondly, there is the quality of its production processes, in which the maxim of ‘continuous improvement’ is absolutely core to the company’s working methods. Simply stated, there is no “how things are done” at Metsä Fibre’s mills. As any visitor will quickly learn, there is only “how things are done today”, with the emphasis on squeezing out a slightly improved result tomorrow.

But the safety “basics” in facilities like these are actually both highly developed and incredibly stringent, and must not be taken for granted. 

“We have trained personnel who think constantly about product safety,” says Thomas Fant. “They know the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ and have them in mind at all times. They control the critical points in our processes which control and influence the safety of the product.”

This is an environment where factors like personal hygiene; clean clothing and shoes; eating in specially permitted locations; closed doors; shoe cleaning or removal; pest control, including keeping birds and insects outdoors; glass protection; glass bottle bans; and snappable-blade-free work all play a part. The level of control is far-reaching, and personnel are disciplined in its enforcement, all working to ensure a clean, safe, uncontaminated end result.

paper manufacturing

A two-way street

And these carefully monitored internal pressures are not the only factor. All the while, Metsä Fibre’s facilities are subject to regular internal and customer audits.

As Category Purchaser at Metsä Tissue Tero Alvoittu states, the need for constant improvement also comes directly from customers, in many cases leading brands that operate globally. “Many customers visit and audit our premises every year. This is a continuous process, which involves checking how we performed last year, the improvements we agreed upon then, how we have fulfilled them, and then looking to the future, to create the next plan.”

So there we have it. Product safety means continuous effort on everyone’s part – both customer and supplier driving each other towards constant improvement. For consumers and other end users, the world may never have been so safe. But somehow we can all be sure it’s about to get safer still.

tissue paper


Tissue on top


A recently published study initiated by the ETS (European Tissue Symposium) has unequivocally proven that there is no safer way to obtain dry hands after they are properly washed than by using paper towels. 

The ETS chairman Fanis Papakostas explains that these findings have been initially established in laboratory conditions, and that now there are also supporting results from real-life conditions.

“This conclusion has also been reached in other studies without any involvement from our side,” he continues, “including two major German television channels which have broadcasted programmes demonstrating that they have executed similar tests in real-life conditions and measured the outcomes.”

Such studies have, in fact, been the subject of research spanning the last few decades. The case in point is particularly valuable, however, in that it incorporates a wider selection of competing methods. “Air jet driers which function utilising the speed of the air rather than the temperature, and have risen in popularity since the last major study in 2008, are now also included,” says honorary chairman Roberto Berardi. And, naturally, paper still emerged on top.

“The outcome of these very significant studies – aside from the fact that they are expected to provide strong argumentation for the tissue industry’s sales organisations, allowing them to do better business,” says Papakostas “is the addition of a sustainability dimension, as the studies demonstrate that by using paper to dry your hands, after they are properly washed, you are also contributing to the safest and most sanitary world possible.”

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  • Issue 2/2015/

    Continuous development work with an ear to the customer: record high customer satisfaction

    ​New survey findings indicate a record high level of customer satisfaction with Metsä Fibre operations.

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  • Issue 2/2014/ Solutions

    Creating added value

    ​The operations model of Metsä Fibre’s supply chain is constantly refined to ensure the best possible value for the customer.

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  • Issue 2/2014/ Voice

    Editorial: Added value is everything

    ​The process of bringing about real and sustained added value starts with truly understanding how customers operate and how they generate value, says Ari Harmaala, Senior Vice President, Sales and Customership.

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  • Issue 2/2014/ Solutions

    Getting more out of innovation

    Innovation Days have always been a splendid opportunity for Metsä Fibre to get together with customers for brainstorming, but there is a great deal more to the company's new innovation process.

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  • Issue 2/2014/

    The new way of trading pulp

    A new and innovative way of bringing buyers and sellers together efficiently and transparently

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  • Issue 2/2015/

    Perspectives on the bioeconomy

    Metsä Group assembled experts and authorities with diverse backgrounds for a round table discussion promoting the bioeconomy.

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  • Issue 2/2014/ Markets

    The growing attraction of virgin fibre

    Pulp and paper industry specialist Oliver Lansdell forecasts rapid growth opportunities for certified market pulp manufacturers supplying the tissue industry, although Esko Uutela, Principal Economist, Tissue, points out that the rate of growth will continue to depend on the global economy.

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  • Issue 2/2014/ Partners

    The X-factor

    Long-term added value is only achievable through an effective partnership, say Angus Clarke and Frederic Deschamps.

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  • Issue 2/2014/ Solutions

    A competitive quartet of high yield pulp grades

    ​Metsä Board mills in Joutseno and Kaskinen, Finland, are leading specialists in manufacturing high yield pulp grades.

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  • Issue 2/2014/ Solutions

    Tall oil: an ingredient in poultry feed

    The number of wood-based bioproduct applications is growing rapidly, and now the R&D team of Hankkija Ltd has developed a new resin acid-based Progres® product for use in poultry feed. The aim is to promote animal welfare and secure a high quality food supply.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Markets

    A competitive edge

    ​Metsä Fibre has won the Excellence Finland Quality Innovation Competition in the large enterprise class for its Botnia Nordic+ softwood pulps. The award also recognizes the company's long-term R&D work and its innovative operating culture.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Partners

    A family affair

    ​Metsä Fibre logistics partner Royal Wagenborg is a major shipping company in global forest industry product transportation. CEO Egbert Vuursteen shares some insight into the importance of sustainability for the company, the way it does business, and the future of logistics.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Sustainability

    A lot to look after

    ​Sustainable development is about making choices today for a better tomorrow. Ulrika Romantschuk and Tom Nickull stress that even though the sustainable development agenda often focuses on green values, the entire sustainability palette is really a much broader entity.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Solutions

    Bioenergy: More than a by-product

    ​A theme year has boosted bioenergy, but the work goes on.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Solutions

    Botnia start-up kit gets you going

    ​Starting a papermaking machine is always a huge operation, and Metsä Fibre helps the customer by providing top quality fiber expertise at this crucial stage. The Botnia Start-Up Kit service concept was created for this purpose.

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  • Issue 1/2014/

    Business bits

    ​New Metsä Fibre Output Record In 2013

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Voice

    Experience in new duties

    Job rotation is an effective approach to in-service learning at Metsä Fibre. The opportunity to tackle diverse challenges at various operating locations in Finland and abroad provides new perspectives over the business as a whole and helps our people to appreciate the needs of the customer.

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  • Issue 2/2014/

    First and foremost: ADDED VALUE

    ​Understanding the real significance of added value, and is exploring all avenues in order to deliver this to the customer

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Solutions

    Optimising processes

    The key to Metsä Fibre’s success lies in continual renewal and in close and transparent cooperation with the customer, says Emilia Moisio.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Sustainability

    Reinventing the renewable

    Pulp industry green streak bodes well for the future, says Tom Wright.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Solutions

    Tall oil: A multiplicity of uses

    Created as a pulp industry by-product, crude tall oil is a versatile raw material that can be refined for a very wide range of uses.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Voice

    The forest shall not be destroyed

    According to Juha Mäntylä, Executive Vice President, Metsä Forest Wood Sourcing, sustainable development is an essential part of the company’s quality package and customer charter.

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  • Issue 1/2014/ Voice

    The pulp mill of the future

    Alongside economies of scale, the Finnish pulp industry will have to develop additional competitive factors for the future, says Metsä Fibre’s Niklas von Weymarn, VP, Research.

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Most popular articles

  • Textiles from pulp fibre

    Issue 1/2017/ Sustainability

    Sustainable fashion from cellulose-based materials

    ​Consumers are becoming increasingly interested and knowledgeable about the impacts that their purchasing decisions have on the surrounding world. Milla Asikainen, Sustainability Manager at Marimakko, explains the potential of cellulose-based textile fibres as a raw material for the clothing and fashion industry.

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  • Logistics

    Issue 1/2017/ Solutions

    A milestone in export logistics

    ​Efficient, reliable logistics will be a key component in the operations of the new Metsä Fibre bioproduct mill, with efficient raw wood deliveries to the mill and dependable pulp deliveries to the customer.

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  • Logistics

    Issue 1/2017/ Voice

    Logistical support for renewal and growth

    ​With an annual manufacturing capacity of some 1.3 million tonnes of softwood pulp, it has been necessary to design an entirely innovative logistical solution for transporting the output from the Äänekoski bioproduct mill to the export market.

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  • Soilfood

    Issue 1/2017/ Partners

    Soilfood - innovative products from cellulose fibre

    ​Soilfood is Finland’s largest supplier of recycled fertilisers and soil improvement products, with a staff that combines solid expertise in agricultural science with practical farming experience. The company  reprocesses the side streams and by-products of Metsä Fibre’s pulp manufacturing, turning them into high-quality agricultural products. Soilfood focuses on researching and developing products with a view to expanding its business concept into the international market.

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  • Water

    Issue 1/2017/ Sustainability

    Responsible use of water

    ​Metsä Fibre mills have systematically reduced process water consumption and wastewater quantities in pulp manufacturing. A largely closed water cycle and a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant at the bioproduct mill are now bringing environmental efficiency to a new level.

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  • Tuomo Niemi

    Issue 1/2017/

    Metsa Fibre at Tissue World Milan

    ​Metsä Fibre took part in the world’s largest dedicated tissue industry trade show, held on 10–12 April, 2017 in Milan, Italy.

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  • FibreOnline

    Issue 1/2017/

    The new and improved Botnia FibreOnline coming soon

    ​This autumn, Metsä Fibre’s customers can look forward to the launch of a fully re-designed Botnia FibreOnline extranet service. The service has been created to ensure easier access to useful digital content and reports.

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  • Metsä Fibre personnel

    Issue 1/2017/

    Recognition for Mills of the Future operating format

    ​The Mills of the Future operating format developed by Metsä Fibre won the Quality Innovation Award of Excellence Finland in the large corporation category last December, and has now repeated this success as first runner-up in the same category of the European Quality Innovation Competition.

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  • Ismo Nousiainen

    Issue 2/2017/ Voice

    Sharpening the customer focus

    Incoming Metsä Fibre CEO Ismo Nousiainen aims to make sure that customers can see the company’s values clearly realised in all of its operations.

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  • Markku Nikkilä

    Issue 2/2017/ Voice

    Sustainable growth from biocomposites

    The abundant annually regenerating forests of Finland place the country in pole position for promoting a bioeconomy based on the sustainable use of renewable natural resources. One example of a solution that reduces the need for fossil oil and polymers is an innovative biocomposite material developed by the Finnish companies Aqvacomp Oy and Elastopoli Ltd.

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  • confectionary packaging

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    Perspectives on product safety

    ​Experts on product safety from throughout Metsä Group – as well as customer organisation CP Kelco – share their views on this crucial area.

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  • Ahlstrom Munksjo

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    The joy of segmentation

    What’s at the heart of a hundred-year success story? Two successful companies, Metsä Group and Ahlstrom-Munksjö, with deep roots and an intense passion for customer satisfaction.

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  • Winter forest

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    Boosting the bioeconomy

    CEPI Director General Sylvain Lhôte says that the forest industry has an unbeatable sustainability story to tell, but should be better in communicating its strengths.

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  • Christmas star

    /

    Something old, something new

    ​From 1996, it has been a tradition to have a Christmas star shining over our Äänekoski mill. Set up on top of the digester, the star used to be a landmark of the old mill, wishing Merry Christmas while bringing light to the mill area.

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  • SkinCare 2.0

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    Innovative products from cellulose fibre: GreenDoer

    ​Based in China, Metsä Fibre’s partner company GreenDoer is a leading supplier of next-generation sustainable packaging solutions to the consumer industry. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, the company has developed innovative 3D shaping technology for producing molded fibre products.

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  • Forest

    Issue 2/2017/ Markets

    Europe's forest nation

    ​Charting the past, present and future of Finland’s uniquely productive relationship with the forest. From Metsä Fibre's perspective, the sustainable and well-organised forest management in Finland and the growing demand from Asia make the future look bright.

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  • Inauguration

    Issue 2/2017/

    Bioproduct mill inaugurated

    ​Metsä Fibre’s next-generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland, was inaugurated by the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö on 18 October 2017. Hosted by President and CEO of Metsä Group Kari Jordan, guests at the event included national policy-makers, representatives from the City of Äänekoski and various partners in cooperation related to the bioproduct mill project.

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  • Bioproduct mill

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    World-class bioproduct mill

    ​Metsä Fibre’s next-generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland, is the largest wood processing plant in the Northern Hemisphere, which brings prosperity to the whole of Finland. The new mill is called a bioproduct mill since it increases the product portfolio with new bioproducts, generates excess bioenergy, and operates without any fossil fuels. The pulp production capacity of the mill is 1.3 million tonnes of pulp a year.

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  • old Äänekoski mill

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    Recycling the old Äänekoski mill

    ​The start of operations at the new Metsä Fibre bioproduct mill in Äänekoski has meant shutting down the old pulp mill, and its demolition is currently under way. This work began in June by dismantling the old wastewater treatment plant.

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  • Woman using a tablet

    Issue 2/2017/

    Customer satisfaction high at Metsä Fibre

    The annual Metsä Fibre customer satisfaction survey was completed again this summer with interviews of pulp customers in various market areas. The overall customer satisfaction rating remained almost unchanged at 8.61 on a scale from 4 to 10.

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  • Issue 1/2018/ Sustainability

    New combination certificate covers all Metsä Fibre operations

    ​Metsä Fibre’s aim of continuously improving its operations is supported by certified control and management systems, related to quality, the environment, energy efficiency and safety. The systems enable, for example, tracking the origin of the wood raw material and following the logistics chain.

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  • technology

    Issue 1/2018/ Voice

    A digital revolution

    ​Technological trends arising from digitalisation, such as IoT, artificial intelligence and data analytics, are having a major impact on society, the world of work and the business operations of Metsä Fibre.

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  • Äänekoski

    / Sustainability

    Key Customer Event showcases sustainable forest management

    ​Running through May 23-25, Metsä Fibre organised a Key Customer Event in and around Äänekoski, the site of its new bioproduct mill, inviting international clients to Central Finland.

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