Transition in the Finnish forest-based sector : Company perspectives on the bioeconomy, circular economy and sustainability
Näyhä, A. (2019). Transition in the Finnish forest-based sector : Company perspectives on the bioeconomy, circular economy and sustainability. Journal of Cleaner Production, 209, 1294-1306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.10.260
Published inJournal of Cleaner Production
DisciplineBasic or discovery scholarshipYritysten ympäristöjohtaminenBasic or discovery scholarshipCorporate Environmental Management
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The forest-based sector is affected by many profound structural changes and the increasing complexity of the business environment due to, for example, the mature markets of many core products and the aims for bio and circular economies and more sustainable societies. In response to the changing business environment, forest-based sector firms need to restructure their business models and develop new products and services. From the Finnish perspective, new forest-based businesses are crucial in the transition to successful and sustainable bio and circular economies. Views on the concepts of bioeconomy, circular economy and sustainability vary according to which parties are involved. Developing new forest-based sector businesses requires that different actors have knowledge of how each understands these concepts because this creates a basis for commonly accepted goals. This study aims to shed light on how forest-based sector companies understand the concepts of bioeconomy and circular and their linkages to sustainability when transforming their businesses. Semi-structured thematic interviews were conducted with 18 company executives and managers from 17 forest-based sector firms and companies from interfacing sectors, all of which have operations in Finland. The results indicate that there are various understandings of the studied concepts and that they are strongly interlinked. The participating firms often saw themselves as forerunners of circular bioeconomy, highlighting the core role of sustainability and reliance on “reasonable use of wood” and far-reaching, in-depth Finnish expertise in the field. Bioeconomy was usually seen as a response to climate challenge by bio-based, renewable material. The key dichotomy was whether bioeconomy should include traditional, bulk forest-based products or should it be dedicated to new, innovative, higher value-added products only. Another challenge was how to target and guarantee the availability of wood-based biomass for different purposes. Circular economy was characterized by resource efficiency, closed loops, recycling and collaboration. The challenges here was leaning too much on old practices whereas more emphasis should be put on inventing innovative collaborations and products. The sustainability discussion was focused on raw material sustainability and on the importance of Finnish forests as carbon sequesters and the sustainable volumes of wood-biomass utilized, whereas biodiversity went largely unnoticed. ...
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