By Jerry Schwartz
Senior Director, Energy & Environmental Policy
As the country becomes more and more focused on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, our industry has an inherent advantage over most of the other sectors of the economy. Our members’ products are manufactured from a renewable and recyclable resource — wood fiber.
Having a renewable and recyclable resource as the foundation of the industry enables our members’ pulp and paper mills to meet, on average, about 66.8 percent of their energy demand from renewable biomass energy, avoiding greater use of fossil fuels, and the associated GHG emissions that result from their combustion. Moreover, unlike most other industries, the efficient Combined Heat and Power (CHP) process that the industry uses to generate 97.6 percent of its self-generated electricity is typically highly integrated into the manufacturing process itself. The biomass residuals from that process — e.g., bark, spent pulping liquor, sawdust, shavings, and paper residuals that cannot be used for products — are used as the primary fuel to power our mills and to provide electricity for the grid.
The use of biomass energy and less carbon-intensive fossil fuels, as well as our continued focus on energy efficiency, have enabled our members to consistently reduce their GHG emissions. Since 2000, total direct and indirect absolute GHG releases at member pulp, paper and wood products manufacturing facilities have decreased by 42.2 percent. GHG emissions intensity, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents released per ton of product produced, has decreased by 23.9 percent
In fact, these practices have enabled our members to reach their voluntary Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 GHG emission reduction goal six years early. Between 2005 and 2014, members reduced GHG emissions from their facilities by 16 percent, surpassing their 15 percent reduction goal. This is the second time our members have reached a voluntary GHG reduction goal ahead of schedule — the last time was in 2006, when they achieved a 12 percent reduction goal early.
We are not resting on our past performance, and we will continue our efforts to reduce our industry’s GHG emissions.