By Jay Backus, Vice President – Manufacturing, Pulp & Paperboard Division, Clearwater Paper and Jason Roggenbauer, Vice President – Environmental, Safety and Health, Clearwater Paper
Clearwater Paper is committed to both economic vitality and environmental sustainability by shrinking our impact on the planet and its resources.
To reduce our reliance on fossil fuels at our pulp mill in Lewiston, Idaho, we replaced a direct heated, Kraft batch digester system with a continuous digester that utilizes exchanger-based heat recovery.
Replacing older digester technologies reduces overall energy costs and, in turn, reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) and other combustion-generated emissions due to the reduced need for power.
The continuous digester enabled us to save more than 100,000 pounds per hour of steam compared to the previous batch process, which equates to an estimated 150,000 tons per year of GHG emissions reduction. Due to our reduced energy needs, we estimate that we will avoid the same amount of GHG emissions, annually, from 2018 forward.
Long before the project began, public discussions were underway with Idaho’s Nez Perce County Board of Commissioners. Public meetings were extensive and company interviews were given to local news media along the way. From the well-attended groundbreaking through the final ribbon cutting, we continued a strong public information campaign that relayed the project’s impact and status. Throughout the entire construction process, Clearwater Paper did not receive one formal complaint from a single member of the public or any agency group.
The local community was a strong supporter and benefited from more than $7 million in local Lewiston purchases and $56 million of purchases in the surrounding region related to the project. Throughout the construction phase, approximately 150 construction workers were living, eating, and spending money on additional expenses in the community.
The Port of Lewiston also benefited from revenues generated from barge delivery of the major project equipment arriving by barge there. As an indirect benefit to the city and due to overland transport of oversized equipment from the Port to the mill, a great deal of above-ground utilities had to be upgraded or buried, which the city was pleased to receive at no cost.
We are proud of our positive effect on the Lewiston community while reducing the environmental impact of our business.
Clearwater Paper received the 2018 AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction for its Lewiston Pulp Optimization Project.