Yleisöä istumassa Tampere-talon salissa.

More and cleaner from less 

In Tampere, forest product specialists talked about both global deforestation and Finland’s top-notch innovations. The event’s stars were the active students. 

The 2024 Forest Based Industries (FBI) Day was held on 24 January at Tampere Hall. It was organised by the Finnish Forest Products Engineers’ Association and the student organisation Paperikerho of Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) 

More than 360 people were in attendance, 279 of them students. The companies taking part in the event numbered 20. All of these figures represent new records for the event. 

Making a particularly significant contribution to the success of the day were TAMK students Tiia-Tuulia Kimpimäki, Annika Kivimäki and Kerttu Seikkula. They began preparations for the day as early as in November.  

On the day of the event, the young women were happy about the trust put in them. 

“Luckily, our team is big. When we help each other, things run smoothly throughout the day,” said Kimpimäki.  

Seikkula says that she was delighted to realise that she understood how the wood, pulp and textile industries work as she listened to the speeches.  

Mariam Icar, a student of fibre and polymer engineering at Aalto University, is working on her master’s thesis at the Finnish Forest Products Engineers’ Association. Icar focuses on digital learning, the basics of which her talk at Tampere Hall also concerned. 

Icar completed her bachelor’s degree on the bio-barriers of packaging in the spring of 2021 and thinks that a job as a packaging industry specialist could be interesting. 

Of the bioproducts already on the market, she finds UPM Biomedicals’ nanocellulose-based wound dressing products particularly interesting.  

Production up, emissions down 

Ali Harlin, research professor at VTT, emphasised that textiles must be made to last. This being the case, pulp – of which, according to Harlin, everything is known in Finland – is the most promising material for the textile industry. 

“You can get added value by producing more from less than before,” said Harlin.  

Matti Toivonen, VP of technology at Metsä Fibre, had similar thoughts. He said that the company he represents aims for the full utilisation of its raw material.  

The new Kemi bioproduct mill, an investment of more than EUR 2 billion, operates entirely without fossil fuels.  

“More production, less emissions,” said Toivonen. 

Elina Warsta, senior manager of Global Forest Affairs at UPM, was equally hopeful when she stated that statistics on the growth of Finland’s forests have been compiled since the 1970s.  

The global decrease of forest area has slowed down. Particularly in Europe, forest area is growing, but in South America and Africa, forests are still being cleared for fields. 

“Without responsibility, there is no future,” said Warsta. 

Virpi Puhakka, director of Valmet’s Beyond Circularity ecosystem, presented the green transition ecosystem in which Valmet plans to invest approximately EUR 40 million in 2022–2025.  

“Pioneers are always needed. There are sure to be some in this room,” Puhakka said. 

“Young people, be inquisitive!” 

The students asked the speakers which subject is the most important one for success in the forest products industry. VTT’s Harlin recommended choosing studies according to one’s own interests. 

“Be inquisitive,” he said. 

Aalto University’s chemical engineering students Mery Lempinen, Janina Mellanen and Mariina Tikka reflected on Harlin’s words during the break, and found them to their liking. 

Mellanen and Tikka also attended last year’s event in Oulu. They said that they had met acquaintances in Tampere, and intended to get to know new people in their field during the evening. 

The trio observed that there were many companies in attendance with which they had applied for summer jobs. 

First, but not the last time 

Design and consulting agency Elomatic Oy became a member of the Finnish Forest Products Engineers’ Association last year, meaning that the FBI Day held in Tampere was a first for the company. Elomatic Design Manager Sebastian Kankkonen, however, has been a personal member of the Association since 1998. 

Kankkonen says that the experiences have been so good that Elomatic will definitely take part in next year’s FBI Day as well, especially now that Elomatic continues to increase its focus on the forest industry. 

“The young people were very well dressed and that added gravity to the event,” said Kankkonen. 

He added that the young people visited Elomatic’s stand so enthusiastically that he found himself running out of time. That is why Kankkonen hopes that the next FBI Day will include more breaks.  

Elomatic, which has a personnel of roughly 1,300, hires around 25 summer employees every year.