Last week, Pratt Industries – the sister company of Australian Visy Industries – opened its new paper mill in Henderson, Kentucky, which it claims is the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly paper mill ever built.
Anthony Pratt has climbed the American bandwagon for renewables, saying the Kentucky paper mill “will save the equivalent of 25,000 trees a day”.
Wood Central spoke to several Australian industry stakeholders who said the claimed carbon capture is the equivalent of about 25,000 tonnes daily!
“What we’d like to know is what is the life cycle of actual pulp … or how long can we keep re-using and re-pulping the same resource before you have to add some pristine fibres to the soup?”
What we do know for sure is that pulp started its life in a tree – it’s not made from nothing!
More specifically, it is made from the cellulose fibres in trees.
When recycling paper, the first step is to dissolve the material to make pulp, the component elements of paper or the cellulose fibres.
Waste recycling is an integral part of a circular economy. However, for some materials, the potential environmental benefits of recycling are unclear or contested.
In a published paper, Dr Stijn van Ewijk, assistant professor in environmental engineering at University College in London, says the world’s paper life cycle generates 1.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, reflecting circularity’s climate change mitigation potential.
“We model material use, energy use and emissions up to the year 2050 for various levels of waste recycling and recovery,” Ewijk said.
“We show this emission pathway is consistent with a two °C global warming target that requires substantial reductions in the carbon intensity of electricity and heat generation.
“We also show that additional recycling yields small or negative climate change mitigation benefits when it requires high-carbon grid electricity and displaces virgin pulping powered by low-carbon by-products.
“The results indicate that circular economy efforts should carefully consider the energy implications of recycling.”
For more information about Pratt’s new paper mill, read Wood Central’s feature story on the new mill.