09 March 2016Munkedals Paper Mill

Back in 2006 I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the Munkedals Paper mill in Sweden courtesy of Arctic Paper. Its one of the most environmentally friendly paper mills in the world and one of Europe’s leading uncoated paper manufacturers. 

It is based 100km north of Gothenburg out in the woods by the Orekil River. A place of such tranquility that 800 years ago Monks lived there and fished for salmon in the Orekil and nearby fjord. Founded in 1871 the mill has been making papers since 1906 and from the 1960’s they have been taking the environment seriously.

They have some of the lowest discharge figures in the world and they improve those figures year on year. Amazingly they only use 3-4 litres of water to produce 1 Kilo of paper. If you compare this to others who use 10-15 litres per 1 Kilo produced then you get an idea how advanced they are.

They have a school onsite so the local children can get a good education, but also learn about the environment and how their mill uses it resources and replenishes it in the best ways possible. Many of those children go on to work in the mill because of the strong community they have there and I’m sure there are generations of some families who have all worked there.

The mill has a wonderful natural purifying system for the water they use and were the first mill to use it if I remember correctly (see pic). The water is fit for human consumption after passing through the set of ponds. They are not resting on their laurels with continuing plans to better their process, they are looking to have a totally self-contained production process one day. 

Making paper is such a wonderful process and as a product we designers should use it when appropriate. We can do so safe in the knowledge that looking after the environment is taken very seriously at paper mills and has been for some time. 

Photo Credit: arcticpaper.com