Going green pays off for Catalyst Paper in Port Alberni
An environmentally sensitive paper making process makes for a greener and higher quality product, says Catalyst Alberni mill manager Tom Paisley.
The energy sources the mill uses to operate and to make paper are all green.
Firstly, the mill uses electricity from BC Hydro, which is generated from water and is nearly carbon neutral.
Secondly, the mill uses wood chips, or hog fuel, to make steam and electricity. The chips are procured from wood by-product at local sawmills, and from trees not fit to be cut at mills.
The hog fuel is the source of all steam used at the mill, Paisley said.
“What the mills don’t have any use for we make use out of,” Paisley said.
“The source of our raw materials is green so the energy we produce is green.”
The effluent, or liquid waste, produced in the chip bleaching process is run through a machine called a primary clarifier where solids are separated and churned back into the mill’s boiler.
Liquid waste is subsequently funneled to a secondary clarifier where remaining solids are churned into the boiler again, and the clean liquid waste deposited in waters near the mill.
The mill burns tire chips in the winter when the hog fuel is wet but this amounts to little more than one per cent of the fuel source required, Paisley said.
Burning hog fuel isn’t new, Paisley said. The company started doing it 30 years ago but just does more of it now as a standard of practice.
“It’s talked about more often now but we’ve been doing it for years,” he said.
The green initiatives aren’t specific to Port Alberni, but are company wide. The company works with employees in developing initiatives and are at work on a few for the future, he said.
“The workers best know the equipment,” Paisley said.
“We’re always looking at ways we can reduce our energy consumption,” he said.
The company is greener that it used to be, Paisley said. According to Catalyst figures, the company produces 76 per cent less greenhouse gas than it did in 1990. And 87 per cent of the energy the company uses come from renewable resources, Paisley said.
Paisley wouldn’t speculate what this translates to in dollar savings. “But the company wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t a lot,” he said.
The company also consistently produces better effluent emission results than is federally legislated, he said.
Hog fuel burns environmentally cleaner, but it has a different kind of green benefits for the company as well.
The company saves money using hog fuel because it is cheaper than when oil was used the past, Paisley said.
Commerce also played a role in shaping the company’s green policy and practices.
“Our customers want an environmental pedigree and we’ve responded to that need,” Paisley said.