By Katharine Eaton
Every day, people around the U.S. and the world depend on our industry’s products to help them communicate and inform; provide shelter and hygiene; package and deliver necessities; and capture life’s memorable moments.
To ensure these products and the resources required to make them will be as plentiful in the future as they are today, American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) members are committed to sustainability along the entire value chain. From the renewable resources they acquire to make their products to leading efforts to promote recovery of the industry’s products for recycling, our companies are at the forefront on sustainability, and National Forest Products Week (Oct. 15 -21) provides yet another opportunity to underscore that fact.
In member facilities, increased efficient use of resources improves the sustainability of the manufacturing process. Energy efficiency improvements keep member costs down and save resources, enabling increased investments in manufacturing operations and communities. Members self-generate most of their energy needs, and most of that energy is renewable.
On average, about 67 percent of the energy used at AF&PA member pulp and paper mills is generated from carbon-neutral biomass and renewable fuels. Carbon-neutral biomass comprises various renewable materials, including bark, sawdust, wood shavings, other woody material and liquid biomass fuel.
Using this self-generated renewable energy avoids fossil fuel-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as GHG emissions that would occur if biomass residuals were disposed of rather than used for energy.
In fact, members surpassed their goal to reduce GHG emissions from their facilities by 15 percent by 2020 ahead of schedule – reaching a 16 percent reduction in 2014. In 2017, members committed to aim for a 20 percent reduction in emissions by 2020.
Water is another vital industry resource. It is used in every process stage of the papermaking process. The pulp mixture that is used to make paper starts off as one percent fiber and 99 percent water, and water is also used for cooling, equipment cleaning and to produce steam for energy.
Ongoing technology and innovation enable water to be reused and recycled 10 times, on average, throughout the pulp and paper mill process. After water is used inside the mill, it is treated in a wastewater system and then returned to the environment.
Infrastructure updates and innovations allow our members to continue to develop more efficient use of these important resources, enabling them to cut costs and use less while continuing to produce the products that people like you and I depend on.
To learn more about the industry’s sustainable manufacturing practices, visit https://sustainability.afandpa.org/