Earth-Conscious Paper Manufacturing: Navigating the World of “Green” Printing

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Published 2/19/13
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This post is part two of a five-part series Miles is publishing every Tuesday, through March 12, 2013, to help make your next print project a green one. To read the complete series, start here: Navigating the World of Green Printing. Energy Easily the biggest and most widely criticized issue with printing is the amount of paper used to create our beautiful, glossy marketing materials. Yes, it’s true it takes literally TONS of paper to create your average vacation guide or magazine. In addition, it takes an extraordinary amount of energy to harvest the trees, create the pulp, make the paper and ship it to the printing facility. Although many marketers are shrinking the size of their guides in favor of providing more information to visitors online, we still can’t completely eliminate this one basic necessity about printing: we print on paper, and we still need lots of it. The good news is that mills are taking steps to employ more environmentally friendly methods of producing paper and offering greener options to consumers.

FlambeauRiverFlambeau River Papers (FRP) in Northern Wisconsin is the perfect example of a mill being innovative in their operations in order to become more environmentally friendly. Upon reopening in 2006, the mill did away with its need to burn coal for energy by installing an enormous biomass boiler. It’s fueled by “un-merchantable” wood—treetops, branches and bug-infested logs, basically any kind of wood that cannot be sold. Not only is wood a less environmentally damaging fuel to burn, but they’ve also managed to repurpose the very byproduct their industry creates. This, in addition to other energy saving and recovery systems constructed, has not only driven a greener operation, but has also resulted in considerable energy cost savings—to the tune of $7 million. Water Mills use a lot of water in paper manufacturing, but FRP consumes very little. The water drawn from Flambeau River is returned to the source cleaner than before. As a result, native fish species thrive, including northern pike, bluegill bass and salmon. Even river sturgeon has made a comeback. Due to the successful fish population, the populations of local birds of prey like eagles and larger wildlife such as grey wolves and deer are also thriving. Forests FRP also follows sustainable forestry practices with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifications. As a result, there are considerably more trees in Wisconsin than there were 70 years ago. FRP also employs a state-of-the-art de-inking facility, enabling the company to create paper with post-consumer waste. We’ll have more on post-consumer waste and recycled papers next Tuesday.