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Sustainable manufacturing part of Colombier’s history

Sustainable manufacturing may seem to be a ‘modern’ development, but when it comes to Colombier, that approach to its paper and cardboard business can be traced back more than 200 years.

Sustainable paper manufacturing has become increasingly important in recent years due to environmental concerns and the growing demand for eco-friendly products. 


Reducing environmental footprint

Advancements in this field are geared toward reducing the environmental footprint of paper production while maintaining the quality and affordability of paper products.

The roots of Colombier are very much in the forests of Finland, which together with Canada are the two countries that turned forest products into an industrial commodity.

Having the raw material of water and lots of trees, they started making paper and board at an industrial scale for export.

flexible packaging plastic-free
Sawmill business

Roots are in the 1700s sawmill business

Colombier was founded in the mid 1970s as part of a Finnish mill group called Myllykoski operating sawmills in Finland already in the 1700s.
So in a way, you could say even Colombier’s roots are already back in the 1700s in those diverse sawmill businesses.

Throughout Finland, families and often towns had licenses to operate in the forest industry, expanding from sawmills, to then becoming pulp and then paper mills.

In the mid-70s they wanted to have a more permanent presence in Western Europe, outside Scandinavia and they purchased paper converters in the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK and those were then consolidated into the Colombier group.

Finland a great place for making paper

Finland has always been a great place for making paper because they took the sustainability approach already in the 1880s. So, while France was farming their grapes and making excellent wine , the Finns played the hand they were dealt: they didn’t have the environment for wine, but were blessed with an abundance of forests across their countryside. They also realised early on that it was sustainable and highly beneficial to actually farm the forests, not to just cut them down. They became adept at the process of replenishing the forests, to provide long term income.

Taking care of forests for almost 200 years

Finland and Finnish producers started taking care of the forests 160 years ago – taking a sustainable approach to the products and the environment.

In the 1970s they were mainly processing printing and writing papers, but then later on extended their production into packaging materials as well. Combined with that, they have also pioneered the launch of new technologies.

Colombier developed technology to make the post production more efficient. It was the first producer to divide reels by sawing the paper reel. The traditional method had been to unwind the material, split it into multiples and then wind it back onto the reel again. It was not only a time consuming and expensive process, but an inefficient one.

Specialised paper cutting saw

But in the early 90s Colombier was the first to pioneer a specialised saw that eliminated the need to unwind the material. 

Making that machine mobile in the late 1990s meant that Colombier could bypass the traditional method and reduce shipping costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport, by taking the saw to where the paper rolls need to be processed.

The process became increasingly efficient, saving time, energy and materials and reducing waste.

Colombier Finland roots
Colombier salvaging waste

Salvaging waste

One of the significant advances in this area is being able to recover water-damaged paper stock. Colombier’s technology is the only one that can actually salvage those reels, being able to split reels and return damaged material back into circulation. And again, it can be done on location which is even better. A very environmentally friendly way of making sure that you don’t have to reproduce those materials.

Water consumption

Paper manufacturing in itself consumes a fair bit of water but, the more you recycle the products the better it performs. Also, when it comes to water and Colombier’s own production process, river water is used for cooling. That water just goes back to the river because it is not contaminated – it remains clean water. What we do then with that is to wash the process regularly as well and that washing water then goes through a patented process. Solids are separated out from the water, so the outcome is clean water that can just go back into the sewer system and the solids are collected. 

For Colombier, they have built on the past, and now the future beckons.