Circular Economy, Renewables & Energy Efficiency

(Credit: Asia Pulp & Paper)

by | May 7, 2020

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(Credit: Asia Pulp & Paper)

The companies driving production of the world’s resources — from food to paper to medical supplies — are tasked with creating effective solutions to meet market demand while minimizing energy usage and other environmental impacts. Consumers – and the brands they trust – are looking to suppliers to understand how they are making better use of available energy resources to stay sustainable. For the supply chain, it starts at the source.

When considering a sustainable path forward organizations and decision-makers would be remiss not to consider the role suppliers play driving sustainable production. Ultimately, the supply chain economy is part of one interconnected ecosystem, where end products have longer lifespans and the ability to re-enter the cycle for reuse. With this in mind, sustainable supply chain development requires a holistic circular strategy to achieve results.

Many companies are working to blend the circular economy with the bio-economy to ensure that a sustainable closed system forms as the cornerstone of their operations. The combined approach examines how a sustainable product process can leverage compostable and recycled materials, resulting in less waste production and smarter use of renewable materials. Alignment with the circular bio-economy encourages industrial symbiosis and a clear move away from the take-make-waste approach to manufacturing. It means finding opportunities to change how we do things while maintaining the benefits we derive from ecosystems.

By using existing resources, reducing inefficiencies in the production process and looking into waste or byproducts in innovative ways, the world’s leading providers of pulp and paper materials can progress toward business circularity. This can lead to many benefits, including energy reduction, water efficiency,lower GHG emissions and more efficient production processes.

Several tactics have emerged as key strategies to achieving these goals.

Leverage Resources in New Ways for a Circular Economy

The pulp and paper industry has the advantage of having byproducts that can be used as renewable energy resources. Organizations can use byproducts created from the pulping processing, wood preparation waste, palm shell, biogas and sludge waste to help reduce GHG emissions. By reusing these byproducts to power machinery for continued activity throughout the mill, organizations can reduce their reliance on traditional fuels and create a more sustainable circular system.

This closed loop systems expands beyond simple production, taking a single view of the entire supply chain.  This can include the implementation of satellite technology to track logging operations right through to the development of new packaging systems not reliant upon harmful plastics. It is this start-to-finish approach that can make a big difference in forests and biodiversity protection.

Be Transparent

It has been long established that transparency within the supply chain is crucial so that all connected entities, from sourcing to consumer, are educated on how goods are being produced. In the forest supply chain, supplier evaluations and risk assessments are common, if not required, by many companies. These assessments ensure suppliers have implemented or are on the path to implementing the operational changes described above in order to meet sustainability goals. A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link, which is a common phrase in production. Energy efficiency and sustainability is no exception. The drive toward renewables will help organizations demonstrate to other partners in the supply chain their progress toward energy savings and established sustainability goals.

For APP, keeping the ideals of the biocircular economy class at the forefront of our operational strategy over the past eight years has resulted in significant improvement and growth toward total energy independence. Since 2012, we have decreased our water usage by 24%, GHG emissions from APP have also dropped 18% by leveraging more renewable resources and capitalizing on technological advancements to make our business a leader in sustainable supply chain development. And our goals only extend further from here. Like many other companies, we continue to focus on fulfilling our sustainability commitments, reducing energy usage and increasing reusables – not only because our customers and key stakeholders are asking for it, but because it’s the right thing to do for our planet.

By Ian Lifshitz, Vice President of Sustainability, Stakeholder Relations, Asia Pulp & Paper Canada

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