Little streams spawned Europe’s largest material recycling center

Way up in northern Finland you will find Europe’s largest salmon river. It originates in the little streams of the Lapland wilderness, where salmon have spawned for millennia. These little streams trickle and combine to form the powerful Tornio River, flowing into the Gulf of Bothnia, the northernmost bay of the Baltic Sea.

Right before reaching the sea, the river passes an enormous complex that is Outokumpu’s Tornio stainless steel mill. The abundance of fish attracts local anglers right to the front of the facility and the river feeds prosperity for a commercial fishing in the local area.

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The Tornio River is a true fisherman’s paradise.

 

Visitors to the plant are often amazed at the surprising harmony between the plant and the pristine nature around it. The Tornio River is a fisherman’s paradise, because the healthy migration of the salmon maintains a substantial part of the Baltic Sea salmon population. This is symbolic of how we see our role in the world – working towards a world that lasts forever.

 

Little streams of progress

Just like the Tornio River forms from the little streams up in the wilderness, the unique sustainability of the Tornio stainless steel mill is not a result of some unique, individual innovation.

Instead, it grows from a myriad of little streams: groundbreaking innovations, advanced operating models, continuous, responsible process development, each worker’s personal commitment to the purpose and to continuous improvement.

 

Europe’s largest material recycling center

 

These little streams that make the difference have produced some amazing results, both at the Tornio stainless steel mill and across Outokumpu’s business. Our products, overall, contain the highest proportion of recycled content within the industry – over 85%.

Overall, at Tornio alone we handle 1 million tonnes of scrap and turn it into top-quality stainless steel products. In fact, our Tornio plant is the largest material recycling center in all of Europe.

Outokumpu Tornio’s harbor is kept busy with recyclable scrap arriving daily from destinations all around the world and shining, superior quality stainless steel departing for markets across the globe. A veritable example of circular economy in bustling action.

Every year we ship over 1 million tonnes of the highest quality stainless steel and process almost a matching amount of recycled content.

 

 

Industry’s lowest emissions

Our emission levels also break all records within the industry – a culmination of decades of development and responsible work. Already today Outokumpu´s stainless steel products have the lowest carbon footprint. And Outokumpu has committed itself to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Visitors to the Tornio stainless steel mill are often amazed at the purity of the nature surrounding our plant. It is a testament to our dedication to sustainability, both on a global level as well as to the community and society all around us.

With the river at the core of our production, we feel we have no option. We are as committed to passing the pristine nature of the Tornio River basin on to the next generations as anybody.

 

Exceptional energy efficiency

One of the key advantages our Tornio stainless steel mill has is the proximity of the Kemi chrome mine to our production facilities. Outokumpu Tornio is unique in that the ferrochrome production is integrated with steel production; e.g. we use liquid ferrochrome to melt the main raw material, recycled steel. This reduces the energy needed for the overall production significantly.

"Using Nordic renewable and low-carbon electricity exclusively reduces our carbon footprint significantly", says Juha Ylimaunu, Vice President, Environment and Sustainability, Outokumpu

 

Our Nordic location also gives us access to exceptional low-carbon energy resources. While the production methods for stainless steel are energy intensive, we are able to source our energy at a more sustainable level.

 

Zero waste

We have made a lot of progress throughout our history, but we are never satisfied. Currently, one of the main goals of our continuous development work is our zero waste initiative.

We are working on revolutionary means to refine the slag byproduct of our process to separate all the metals for reuse, as well as to create sustainable products from the slag itself. Zero waste may be an aspirational goal, but we feel we are well on our to achieving it.

All of this means we are looking at the future with confidence and excitement. As our production methods continue developing, we keep lowering our emissions and reducing our energy consumption. That means we can produce the highest quality stainless steel for the needs of modern society at a minimal cost to the environment.

Our drive for zero waste in the slag process is just one of our continuous sustainability projects.

This secures not only the future of our operation, but also the economic future of the local communities and last, but not least, the purity of the Tornio River. Over our 50 years of operations in Tornio we have grown to be part of the community and our personnel are deeply rooted in the area. One of the main attractions for them, as well as our numerous visitors to the mill, is the river with its thriving ecosystem and economy.

We take pride in our products and our environmental record, but are committed to always pushing forward. Outokumpu’s Tornio stainless steel mill, the unique Tornio River, the prosperity of the fisheries and our neighbors in the city and throughout the area are a testament to our commitment to working towards a world that lasts forever.