One’s waste becomes another’s energy

The 60 companies in the Alholmen Industrial Park have the same objectives: to create their own ecosystem, where as much as possible is reused, and to work together to achieve results.

At the Alholmen Industrial Park (AIP) in Jakobstad everything comes full circle. Waste from one industry is used in another, and the only items that leave the area are finished products. Although there is still work to be done, the park’s purpose is clear: to build a closed-loop system that benefits everyone.

We meet at Baltic Yachts, a yard with a long history of collaboration with Nautor Swan, another major yard in the industrial park. The yards collaborate in the procurement of materials and by employing each other’s workers on a temporary basis.
– The latest co-operation involves the collection of waste, together with other composite companies. Previously, the composite would end up in landfill sites, but now it is crushed at the Kuusakoski recycling plant in Kalajoki and given a new life as concrete,” says Production Manager Tommy Björklund.

Efforts are being made to create synergies regarding sustainability and circular economy

He is also chairman of the board of the Alholmen Industrial Park Association, which was formed to provide advocacy, to help its members achieve sustainability targets, and accelerate the circular economy. A material and energy flow analysis was carried out in the area in 2019. It’s now the job of the association’s environmental team to encourage the more efficient use of energy and resources.
Björn Åkerlund, CEO of Alholmens Kraft and on the AIP association’s board of directors, says that the association has just launched a circular economy project. He explains how the park’s synergistic partnerships work in practice:
– It’s all about using the by-products. Wood chips and sawdust, by-products from the timber industry, are used as raw materials for chemical pulp and paper. Waste material from the UPM paper mill is burned and turned into energy at our facility and, finally, returned to the mill. Another example is Baltic Yachts’ timber waste. It is burned on-site instead of being discarded.
He says that the power plant has an “every little helps” approach. The gains lie in reducing the use of virgin raw materials and in savings on transport, no matter how small. And, of course, the cycle of reuse is important for the plant in terms of goodwill.

The challenge lies in communicating circular thinking

– Another good example is UPM’s green sludge, which replaces limestone in our process to reduce sulphur dioxide from the power plant’s gases, he says.
The challenge lies in communication, in finding ways to encourage circular thinking.
– We need to get better at telling people what we do, to attract future employees and new companies to the area, but also to show that investing in sustainability and circular thinking are crucial competitive advantages, says Tommy Björklund.

AIP – About us

There are over 60 companies with 2,000 employees in Alholmen Industrial Park (AIP). Everything from luxury yachts to cellulose is produced on its 370-hectare site. The park is known for its companies in the pulp and paper, boatbuilding, and metal industries, and almost 80 percent of its products are exported. It is the AIP Association’s job to look after the companies’ interests. The association helps the companies to create synergies, which are made possible by a shared infrastructure and logistics, with the port at its centre. The Alholmen Industrial Park is in Jakobstad, and its motto is: “Local effort – Global success”.

Read our other Sustainability stories

This series of articles have been produced within the CIT-project (Circular Insights and Transition) which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund, The Council of Ostrobothnia together with all Development companies in Ostrobothnia.