Environmental impact is something that’s always top of mind for paper manufacturers these days. And while a negative picture is often painted about various manufacturing industries’ effects on Mother Earth, much of it is the result of misinformation when it comes to paper industries.
Among the biggest myths is that a continued demand for paper will lead to the demise of trees and forests. The reality, however, is that the actual rate of deforestation in the United States has dropped dramatically even as the demand for paper increases. That’s due in large part to the manufacturers themselves, which plant six trees for every one they cut down. In fact, the portion of the entire land area occupied by forests across the United States has risen more than 34,000 square miles over the past 30 years.
While many of the myths that have helped to vilify manufacturing are unsubstantiated, there are still some legitimate concerns that if ignored could increase paper manufacturers environmental impact. But with some care and knowledge, there are a number of ways to be more green and minimize the environmental footprint to ensure a long and sustainable future for both paper manufacturers and the environment.
The impact of recycling
Recycling has done a lot to reduce the impact of paper manufacturing. Today recycled paper is used for countless applications including newspapers, catalogs, magazines, packaging products, and even bath tissue. While this is certainly a great contributor, paper life can’t be extended indefinitely. The technology does not yet exist to stop using virgin fibers altogether.
Because wood fibers used for paper wear out eventually, they must be combined with virgin fiber to produce quality paper. That’s why a commitment to recycling alone isn’t enough.
Let’s take a look at a couple of additional ways that paper manufacturers can reduce their environmental impact:
The need to control and reduce waste is important across all industries and manufacturing processes, and papermaking is no exception. That’s why waste control has a major impact on paper manufacturers’ environmental impact.
Depending on the exact paper manufacturing industry you’re in — packaging, shipping, or design, to name a few — papermaking can produce significant waste streams. These might include wastewater treatment residuals, boiler and furnace ash, ink and other printing consumable chemicals, pulp and paper, and product rejects.
Paper manufacturing mills already are engaging in a number of important waste stream recycling and reuse initiatives. These include paper fillers and fiber, composting materials. As the use of paper manufacturing residuals increases, waste control will continue to improve.
Partnering for sustainability
Working with a paper converter that’s committed to sustainability is one of the top ways in which paper manufacturers can lessen their negative impact on the environment today.
First and foremost, paper manufacturers should choose partners that are able to customize products and packaging sizes. Not only does this reduce waste from the outset but it can also contribute to a reduced volume in truckload, which in turn reduces fuel needed to transport shipments.
Paper converters that regularly evaluate and work to improve their own in-house green initiatives also make a significant difference in the mark your business will ultimately leave on the earth.
At Oren International we are methodical in our processes for salvaging paper waste that many other converters would discard. We segregate and bale those leftovers in-house so it can be sold back to paper mills for the creation of additional paper products.
Paper rolls present another opportunity to practice sustainability. The ends of rolls, that often get discarded or go unused can actually be salvaged with the proper equipment. At Oren, we have machines that strip off those remaining ends for baling and recycling. We also go a step further to preserve and reuse the core of every paper roll in our converting process.
Because we make our own paper cores and tubes in house, we are also able to reduce environmental impact by cutting down on the energy and fuel required to ship large quantities of cores. We use a state-of-the-art trim system that takes the extra trim and moves it to a centralized system where paper can segregated and sorted by paper type.
No matter what paper manufacturing industry you’re in, there are many steps you can take to reduce the environmental impact of your operation. If you’d like to learn more about how partnering with Oren International can help make your manufacturing more green, contact us today.
Photo courtesy of treehugger.com