By Jerry Schwartz
Senior Director, Energy & Environmental Policy
AF&PA’s Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 purchased energy efficiency goal is a great example of a sustainability goal that furthers all three pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental. Using energy more efficiently reduces companies’ overall energy costs, thereby improving profitability; frees up resources for other more productive investments in mills and communities; and, reduces environmental impacts. It also complements our goal to reduce water use in AF&PA member mills by 12 percent, as reducing water use has the added benefit of reducing mills’ energy consumption.
On average, AF&PA members meet about two thirds of their energy demand from self-generated renewable biomass. Striving for the most efficient energy consumption is important to companies small and large because our industry remains energy intensive.
Our members have improved their purchased energy efficiency by 8.1 percent, making solid progress on their way to achieving the 10 percent Better Practices improvement goal by 2020.
An important way our members improve their energy efficiency is through the combined heat and power (CHP) generation process, which efficiently produces electricity and steam used in manufacturing. In 2014, 97.64 percent of the electricity the industry generated was through CHP. The forest products industry produced 33 percent of the CHP electricity generated by manufacturing sectors; only the chemical industry produced more.
Improving energy efficiency will remain key as mills continue to consider their energy choices and strategies in light of upcoming environmental requirements and changing cost scenarios and fuel availability. As energy efficiency is a core element of mill sustainability, we are confident we will reach our energy efficiency goal.