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The Final Word by Chuck Swann
The second on the list of the American Forest & Paper Association's six sustainability goals is to improve its members' purchased energy efficiency use by at least 10% from 2005 to 2020. The goal is within sight, as improved efficiency has already led to a decrease in purchased energy in 2013 of 8.8% from the 2005 baseline. How was the reduction accomplished?

One short answer is biomass. Residuals that do not end up in solid wood products, pulp, paper, packaging and other wood-based materials find major waste-not want-not use as an energy source for manufacturing or for generation of electricity to an extent that finds some of the juice being sold to the grid as green power. About 66% of the energy used at AF&PA member mills is generated from carbon-neutral biomass. Forest and paper products operations accounted for 62% of the renewable biomass energy consumed by all manufacturing facilities in all sectors. Fifty-nine percent of the electricity used by member mills in 2013 was self-generated, while 42% of the mills self-generated more than half their power and 23% sold power back to the grid.

Purchased energy use by member mills was 11.8 million BTUs per ton of production, against a 2020 goal of 11.6 million.

How do US mills stack up against their counterparts elsewhere on the globe? The strategic energy technologies initiative of the European Commission reports that 55% of the energy used by pulp and paper mills on the continent comes from biomass and 38% from natural gas. In Europe, the industry produces about 46% of the electricity it consumes.

Chuck Swann is the senior editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at chuck.swann@taii.com.

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