Sustainability in Piteå

We started our first business tour with Böle Tannery, the world’s last spruce tannery established in 1899 and is found in Piteå, Sweden. Böle produces handcrafted cattle and reindeer leather goods and is a purveyor to the Swedish court. They have been practicing sustainable production techniques, including creating lasting leather products that are hand stitched, and are in the process of utilizing a new program in Bangladesh which would provide families with cattle which they care for but would be able to keep the meat, and potentially vacuum package it to extend its shelf life and sellability once the hide is taken for their leather goods. The production facility has been in the same place since its establishment and the tanning water had not been changed since 1918, which to our discovery is because old water encourages the water binding and dying of the leather with tannins found in the spruce bark.

Our second stop was Fortlax. Fortlax is an external database storage facility that houses the data for companies such as BMW. You’re probably wondering how data storage and sustainability intertwine, well the two have quite a bit in common. First of all, digitalizing the world saves the amount of trees that Sweden and the rest of world use, which northern Swedes are especially proud of. Second, data storage facilities require a lot of energy in order to maintain a certain temperature and air conditioners are the main use of that energy. Data storage facilities need to be cold and the north of Sweden has plenty of it. Fortlax has been a pioneer in the northern Sweden market being one of the first companies to set up a data storage facility in the region. Their sustainability comes from them pumping hot water to the outside air where the water becomes cold that then enters their facilities circulating around the servers creating a cooling effect. This significantly reduces costs for data storage. Facebook has even recognized this and created their own storage facility in Luleå.

Our final business visit was to the Piteå Science Park, which is a start-up company that hosts many up and coming businesses and provides them space to work and funding to get started. Similar to Launch Labs at Chapman, the area we toured was the incubator for startups and use sustainable methods throughout their practice in the music, art, and science industries. They gain power from the rainforest and repurpose trees to produce biodiesel to fuel their operations. Their opera theater was repurposed to be completely made out of compressed pine and concrete (picture shown below).
The sustainability of the three companies we visited today, although each different and unique, provide Sweden with an advantage in protecting their environment and utilizing clean energy to fuel their companies.

Team 17-4