By Jerry Schwartz
Senior Director, Energy & Environmental Policy
Elections matter. New administrations bring new policies and new approaches to environmental and energy issues, including those regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction.
While policies may have changed, our members are continuing to make voluntary strides to reduce their GHG emissions as part of their overall sustainability and efficiency programs. Many customers continue to prefer products that are manufactured from a renewable and recyclable resource—wood fiber—and that use renewable energy in the manufacturing process.
Having a renewable and recyclable resource as the foundation of the industry enables our members’ pulp and paper mills to meet, on average, about 66.6 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 98.5 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. This means all of the forest raw material is used and nothing is wasted.
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 40.8 percent. GHG emissions intensity, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents released per ton of product produced, has decreased by 27.4 percent.
In fact, these practices have enabled our members to reach their original 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.
Moreover, members have almost met the new 20 percent reduction goal they set, by achieving a 19.9 percent reduction between 2005 and 2016. We are not resting on our past performance and we will continue our efforts to meet and exceed our new goal.