Our approach to waste management in North America focuses on source reduction first, followed by re-use and then recycling, all actions that prevent waste. In some cases for products that are difficult to recycle, incineration with energy recovery is the next best option. Ultimately, the primary goal is to keep paper products and by-products out of landfills where they can decompose and form methane, a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 25 times higher than carbon dioxide.
Efficient use can be a focus up and down the supply chain. Designers have significant influence on the overall environmental impact across a product’s life cycle by considering efficiency in use and ultimately how easily a product can be re-used, recycled or disposed. Direct marketers and catalogers have adopted practices such as maintaining good mailing list hygiene and using more targeted versions of catalogs with fewer pages rather than mass-mailing a single, larger version.
In Sappi’s Release Papers business, our products are primarily used to impart texture on other decorative surfaces such as synthetic fabrics and laminates. Our paper is part of the production process, not the final product, and is designed for multiple re-use. Our Technology Center scientists constantly look for ways to improve release paper products to maximise re-use, with many of our release grades providing customers dozens of re-use cycles.
At Sappi, we're using woodfibres in applications never imagined before. Our dissolving pulp business makes wood pulp that is converted into viscose staple fibres, which are spun into threads to make textiles. While fabrics are highly reusable, many consumers don't realise they are also recyclable. Most facilities will put reusable clothing back in circulation while sending the rest to textile recycling facilities, where materials are sorted and processed to recapture the basic fibres for use as raw materials for new products.
The by-products of our papermaking are also keeping cows and farmers happy. Watch this short video to see how at Cloquet Mill in Minnesota.
Within our own operations, we strive to minimise waste of raw materials. One of our five-year goals is to reduce landfill rates by 10%. Therefore, any form of internally generated waste paper is either returned to the paper machines as a furnish component we call “broke” or is recovered as recycled fibre, depending on where the waste paper is generated.
We also use alternative fuels such as, tyre-derived fuel and mill generated sludge from treatment plant operations. Use of these resources results in cost savings for our mills. By converting all these waste streams to energy, less waste goes to landfill as part of a circular economy.