The Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative was established by American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) members in 2011. The voluntary industry goals it includes work to further the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. As an energy-intensive industry, our members recognized the need to improve their efficiency in purchased energy. Not only does improved energy efficiency result in reducing overall costs to companies, but it also frees up resources for future investment and job growth and improves the environment.
Between 2005 and 2016, our members reduced their consumption of purchased energy by 11.6 percent, surpassing their goal of a 10 percent reduction ahead of schedule!
Our members meet approximately two-thirds of their energy demand through self-generated renewable biomass; this significantly reduces their purchased energy consumption.
One of the ways our members improve energy efficiency is through a combined heat and power (CHP) generation process, which efficiently produces electricity and steam used in manufacturing. In 2016, 98.5 percent of the electricity the industry generated was through CHP. The forest products industry produced 30 percent of the CHP electricity generated by manufacturing sectors (only the chemical industry produced more).
Improving energy efficiency will remain key as mills continue to consider their energy choices and strategies in light of environmental requirements and changing cost scenarios and fuel availability. As energy efficiency is a core element of mill sustainability, we are proud that we have met our energy-efficiency goal, and we will continue to strive to achieve further improvement.
Jerry Schwartz is the senior director of energy & environmental policy at the American Forest & Paper Association.