Forest industry product innovations and the climate benefits of products still unknown to consumers
A recent survey shows that Finnish consumers’ knowledge of the latest product innovations and climate benefits of the forest industry is still limited. However, the importance of the forest industry to Finland’s economy and well-being is well known to consumers.
According to a survey conducted by Taloustutkimus Oy, 80% of Finns consider the market for wood-based products in the Finnish economy to be large or quite large. Of the respondents, 77% considered felling trees to be acceptable if a new forest is grown in their place.
The forest industry’s product innovations are still not visible to the general public. Only 6% of the respondents recognised that battery materials can be made from wood. Of the respondents, 9% knew about the wood-based binding agent for toothpaste and 17% knew about wood-based soda bottles.
“The result clearly shows that a sustainable forest industry has a strong mandate from the people. At the same time, there is enormous potential in making consumers aware of all the things that can be made of wood,” says Timo Jaatinen, Director General of Finnish Forest Industries.
When a Finn chooses a product made of wood, the most important factors in the choice of a wood product are its durability (60%), the material’s pleasantness (57%) and its Finnish origin (48%).
The environmental impact of products is not known
According to the survey, consumers’ knowledge of the environmental impact of the products they use is still limited. Of the respondents, 34% feel very or quite familiar with the environmental impact of the products they use. However, only about one in four Finns think they have a more detailed understanding of the climate impact of products and only one in five Finns think they have a more detailed understanding of the climate benefits.
“Products made of wood play a crucial role in reducing the use of non-renewable raw materials. The forest industry’s wood-based, renewable and carbon-absorbing products absorb more carbon than what is emitted by the industry’s mills in Finland,” Jaatinen says.
“The potential positive handprint of wood-based products on the environment is huge,” says Dr Gregory A. Norris, a Co-Director of SHINE@MIT and an Adjunct Lecturer at Harvard University, who was a keynote speaker at a forest industry seminar held in Helsinki 22.4.2022.
Finnish forest industry companies are world leaders in the development of innovations based on renewable materials technology. This is reflected in the companies’ new business areas: renewable textiles, various green chemicals, fossil-free packaging, urban construction solutions and bio-based fuels. Last year, Finnish forest industry companies invested more than EUR 450 million in research, development and innovation activities.
Between February and March 2022, a total of 3,108 people responded to the Consumption Behaviour and Sustainability survey commissioned by Finnish Forest Industries and conducted by Taloustutkimus Oy. The margin of error for the results of the internet panel survey is +/- 1.8 percentage points.
“A survey conducted on such a large scale gives a very reliable picture of the attitudes and knowledge of Finns in relation to sustainability, the forest industry and its products, and the climate impact of products made of different materials,” says Juho Rahkonen, Account &Insight Director at Taloustutkimus Oy.