Sustainable packaging company DS Smith is investing more than $8.8 million to expand its anaerobic treatment facility to create biogas at its Rouen paper mill in northern France, which will allow the site to generate green energy from 100% of its wastewater.
The company says the process to create biogas uses micro-organisms and works without oxygen using what is called anaerobic digestion. That biogas will be converted into sustainable energy by the mill’s partner IDEX. The result will then be used to provide green electricity to homes and businesses throughout the Normandy area.
The expansion is expected to boost the mill’s biogas production from 26,000 MWh to 39,000 MWh annually. DS Smith says that will potentially save up to 2,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, an equivalent to removing more than 600 small cars from the road.
Biogas is a renewable energy source and a greener alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Biogas contains roughly 50-70% methane, 30-40% CO2 and trace amounts of other gases. It is a growing use of renewable energy. BP and CleanBay Renewables announced a 15-year partnership to make natural gas from poultry litter and Chevron and Brightmark also plan to sell a renewable natural gas made from dairy biomethane, to name a few recent examples.
DS Smith also says the investment will improve the quality of its discharged water. The water treatment plan will reduce the mill’s biological sludge because it will reduce the use of vehicles needed to do the work on the site, the company says.
Biogas isn’t the first area DS Smith has tackled in finding different uses to enhance its green production. The company recently announced plans to use seaweed as an alternative to wood to help replace problem plastics and create more sustainable paper and packaging products.
As part of its Now & Next Sustainability Strategy, DS Smith plans to reduce at least 40% of its CO2 emissions per metric of production by 2030 compared to its 2019 levels and wants to reach net zero emissions by 2050.