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Carbon-Beneficial Bioenergy & Energy

The paper and wood products industry is a significant contributor of renewable energy, producing more carbon-beneficial bioenergy than any other industrial sector. We produce our bioenergy by efficiently using leftover materials in the manufacturing process, such as bark and liquid biomass.

The sustainable use of bioenergy to power paper mills reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Our use of bioenergy prevents about 181 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere each year. That’s roughly equal to removing 35 million cars from the road.

Paper and wood products manufacturers are also leaders in using highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP) technology. In 2018, nearly 99% of electricity produced by the industry was CHP-generated.

PURPA is the law that helps maintain fair treatment of facilities that use CHP.

It also provides benefits to ratepayers, including requiring local utilities to purchase CHP-generated power at “avoided cost” (i.e., the cost the utility would have incurred had it supplied the power itself or obtained it from another source). 

AF&PA believes fair treatment of industrial CHP is required by PURPA and should be maintained.

What We’re Doing

The paper and wood products industry is a crucial part of the climate solution and can help the United States achieve its carbon reduction goals. Having met or exceeded most of our sustainability goals over the last decade, we have launched new 2030 goals to continue our progress.

We’re working with policymakers, including the EPA, to recognize our renewable bioenergy achievements. And we support policies that encourage power generation from efficient energy sources.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Regulation

Our industry took early voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

Our members have decreased their GHG emissions by more than 23% since 2005. This was accomplished through improving energy efficiency, switching to less carbon-intensive fuels, and using more renewable bioenergy.

What We’re Doing

We’re furthering our commitment to reduce GHG emissions with a new goal. Through Better Practices, Better Planet 2030, we aim to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030.

We’re working with the Administration, policymakers, including the EPA, to achieve ambitious goals for the future of the United States and our planet. With a track record of success in reducing GHG emissions, our industry seeks solutions that balance environmental, social and economic concerns.

Air & Water

The paper and wood products industry set ambitious environmental stewardship goals. 

Investments to improve energy efficiency and upgrade emissions controls at mills, as well as switching to cleaner, less carbon-intensive fuels, led to a 48% drop in emissions of nitrogen oxide and an 82% drop in sulfur dioxide (between 2000-2018).

Since 2005, AF&PA members have reduced water use by nearly 7%. We are also driving greater water stewardship

What We’re Doing

AF&PA and its members are working with the Administration, Congress, states and other stakeholders to achieve a sustainable path forward. 

Despite substantial emission improvements, implementation of the Clean Air Act could impose even stricter requirements and new investment obligations over the next 10 years. Unless carefully designed, the combined financial hardship of these regulations on the industry could have unintended consequences.

We support policies that recognize the significant air quality improvements the industry has already achieved. And we support policies that use realistic data and modeling tools and achieve cost-effective outcomes.

We’re also working with EPA and states on sustainable water quality criteria.  

We look forward to continuing our work with the EPA as we further the sustainability of our water and air resources, as well as our industry.

Regulatory Reform

Paper and wood products manufacturers make products that meet essential needs. We're investing in new technologies and making new capital expenditures over the next decade. 

Sensible regulation is an important part of responsible manufacturing. However, poorly designed regulations can cause more harm than good by slowing down innovation, growth, investment and job creation.

What We’re Doing

We believe regulatory decisions should be based on the best available scientific and technical information. 

We have a track record of success in working with the EPA and other policymakers. We look forward to our continued partnership as we work together to achieve goals.