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Forchem found out the environmental performance of its products

Forchem is a pioneer in the research and development of crude tall oil, creating CTO-based products for various industrial processes. CTO is a natural and sustainable alternative to non-renewable raw materials. It is generated from pine trees through the kraft pulping process, after which it is refined and upgraded in our biorefinery in Rauma. The refined crude tall oil products are used as raw materials in paints, coatings and printing inks.

Forchem wanted to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) to provide its customers with verified information on the environmental performance of its products. Forchem's products are bio-based chemicals from crude tall oil (CTO). Refined CTO products are used in many industrial processes, such as paints, coatings and printing inks.

"Our customers had a need to know the environmental impacts of their raw materials, which led to the decision to conduct a life cycle assessment," says Sanna Raukko, Regulatory Manager at Forchem.

The assessment progressed from defining the system boundary to presenting the results

The life cycle assessment was carried out for four of Forchem's CTO-based products. At the beginning of the project, system boundary was reviewed and decisions were made on how contributing factors would be allocated to main and co-products both in pulp production (where CTO is obtained as a co-product) and at Forchem's own refinery.

"The allocation choices were a critical phase of the project, as there is not a single correct procedure for allocating emissions for multifunctional processes such as the production of crude tall oil-based products. We had many conversations with Forchem about how allocation should be done and how the choice made would affect results and their usability, applicability, and comparability with, for example, the competitors’ or Forchem's customers’ calculations," says Emma Salminen, Project Manager at Etteplan.

After the kick-off meeting, Forchem received data collection forms to be completed, and the information obtained from these forms was used in carrying out the calculations. After discussions on data and methodologies, the project progressed to the calculation and reporting phase, as well as presenting the results.

In-depth understanding of environmental impacts of the operations and factors causing them

Forchem had previously conducted carbon footprint calculations of its products but wanted to up-date the calculation and include other environmental impact categories in addition to carbon footprint.

"Our previous carbon footprint calculations were done several years ago and were therefore out of date. At the same time, our focus on carbon footprint has changed more towards life cycle assessment as we began to understand that there are other environmental impacts besides CO2 emissions," Sanna tells.

Through life cycle assessment, Forchem was able to provide its customers with the LCA results they needed for their products. Additionally, Forchem gained a deep understanding of the environmental impacts of their operations, what they consist of, and how they can be influenced.

"With this life cycle assessment, we can meet our customers' requirements and have a better understanding of how we impact the environment and what aspects of our operations we can improve."

Sanna Raukko

Regulatory Manager at Forchem

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Emma Salminen

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