Mercer Stendal focuses on CO2 reduction

As a manufacturer of bioproducts, sustainability is central to the corporate philosophy of the Mercer Group and thus Mercer Stendal. The pulp mill in Arneburg, for example, only processes wood from demonstrably sustainable forestry, where only as much wood is harvested as grows back. In addition, improvements are continuously introduced in the production process to act in an, even more, environmentally-friendly way. 

In 2021, Mercer completed the development of its corporate strategy, with set targets of reducing the fossil emissions of all operations. By 2030, emissions are to be reduced by 35 percent. The first measures to achieve this were already planned and implemented in 2020. For example, the lime cooler in Mercer Stendal’s lime kiln was replaced during the year’s annual shutdown. “This enables us to ensure compliance with the latest German environmental regulations. It’s also laid the foundation for a future decarbonization project by making us more energy efficient with the new cooler as a first step,” reports Dr. Martin Zenker, plant manager at Mercer Stendal.

The Arneburg pulp mill is the most efficient of its kind in continental Europe. The entire production process is based on the renewable raw material wood, which is one of the world’s most important renewable resources. Thus, Mercer Stendal’s product portfolio is an expression of a holistic approach to recycling. “In terms of a consistent circular economy, our claim is to create the greatest possible value from the tree and to improve the CO2 balance of the existing value chains,” Zenker explains further.

Mercer Stendal achieves this by first using the wood for material value creation in order to produce as many bio-based products as possible. Of course, pulp is the main product, but the pulping process creates a number of byproducts: turpentine, tall oil, and methanol.  As insignificant as the word “byproducts” sounds, they are far from being so. They are used as a replacement for fossil fuels and are found in everyday products we all use: paints, adhesives, pharmaceutical products, tires and road markings, and, last but not least, perfumes and fragrances. As they are based on the renewable raw material wood, these products have a low CO2 footprint and are thus part of the solution to climate change. 

Mercer is satisfied when all substances have been extracted from the wood. But the remains are by no means wasted. These residuals are also recycled into green electricity. Currently, Mercer Stendal is the largest producer of bioelectricity created from solid biomass in Germany. A maximum of 148 megawatts can be produced per hour. About 50 percent of this produced energy is used to power the pulp mill entirely. The remaining percentage is fed into the public grid, meaning that more than 160,000 households can be supplied with bioelectricity.

This also explains why Mercer Stendal added two electric vehicles to its fleet in 2021. “We are continuing on our chosen path of electric mobility,” explains André Listemann, Managing Director of Mercer Stendal. Back in 2020, the company decided to take their green energy consumption further with the installation of a charging station for passenger cars in front of the pulp mill. “We quickly added a second charging station. A further expansion stage is being planned,” continues Listemann.

But not everything can be powered electrically – yet. Green energy trucks are currently being developed, but at the moment most of the power on the road comes from diesel fuel. However, the pulp mill and its logistics subsidiary, Mercer Logistik, have succeeded in reducing diesel consumption in 2021. “We set ourselves a target of five percent, but we have exceeded that. In concrete terms, this means a saving of about 34,000 litres of diesel,” Listemann explains.

Mercer Logistik exceeded its goal of saving five per cent diesel in 2021.

Mercer Logistik exceeded its goal of saving five percent of diesel in 2021.