By Diane Hardison
Environmental Manager at our Plymouth mill
Innovation is one of Domtar’s three core values, but innovation does not start and stop only with the products we manufacture; we apply it to the whole lifecycle, down to its byproducts.
Most of our pulp and paper mills are located in rural areas, and our Plymouth mill in Eastern North Carolina is no exception. On the land surrounding the mill, farmers grow crops such as cotton, tobacco, corn, soybeans, peanuts, wheat and more. We knew that the residuals of our manufacturing process contained nutrients that, in the right concentrations, could be beneficial to our farming neighbors.
Our sustainability framework prompted resourceful managers at the mill to recognize the opportunity of blending the byproducts to create a nutrient-balanced material that works well as an amendment to local soils. After we consulted with scientists from North Carolina State University, we were ready to register a new agricultural project with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture: K-Lime.
K-Lime consists of byproducts created by our manufacturing process. Its name comes from its high contents of potassium, for which K is the chemical symbol, and lime. K-Lime is an ideal substitute for traditional fertilizer, and can be just as safely used on consumption crops as it can on pasture land.
The project has had tremendous results. The need to landfill any byproducts is eliminated, because every byproducts is being used, which has saved costs. We are able to transfer these cost-savings to local farmers by providing K-Lime at one third of the price of traditional fertilizer. Growing any kind of crops requires large amounts of fertilizer, which can be a big part of a farmer’s budget as margins get thinner.
Farmers report that they’ve seen better yields and better looking crops since switching to K-Lime, and we are proud to be able to supply hardworking men and women with an all-natural product that works just as well as traditional fertilizer at a fraction of the cost.
K-Lime greatly benefits the local community, reduces our environmental footprint, and conserves and reuses materials while cutting costs for all parties involved – a true win-win project.
Domtar received a 2015 AF&PA Innovation in Sustainability Award for their Plymouth K-Lime Project.