Company / Sustainability / Sustainability-in-Action

Sustainability in Action

See some of the ways GP employees practice sustainability – working to meet the needs of society today while keeping the needs of future generations in mind.

We look closely … at products, at processes, at the entire supply chain … in order to deliver innovative solutions that extend environmental benefits into the marketplace to our customers and consumers.

Dixie Ultra Plates

Innovation Improving Air Quality

An investment to upgrade a corrugator at GP’s Milford packaging plant triggered a need for updated pollution control equipment—specifically, a way to collect the paper dust that comes from recovering corrugated waste for recycling. After reviewing various technologies, the plant team selected an innovative system from the dry cleaning industry that uses water rather than bags to remove dust from the air. Not only did the new system perform well, but it also cost significantly less than the typical bag house. An added bonus—it helps save energy during the winter since warm air from the system is vented back into the plant.

Strong & (Resource) Smart

Consumers like a strong paper plate. So when Georgia-Pacific’s Dixie business introduced its new Dixie® Ultra plate, it became a regular guest at picnics, tailgate parties and Tuesday night dinners at home. Forty percent stronger than before, Dixie Ultra is the strongest paper plate on the market. What’s behind all that added strength? Innovation and sustainability. Renewable wood fiber has given Dixie® plates their strength for more than 50 years. But making them 40 percent stronger didn’t take any more wood fiber. By changing the angle of the plate’s rim, Dixie engineers were able to increase the plate’s strength without having to use more raw materials.

Georgia-Pacific is always exploring ways to minimize our impact on the environment—reducing raw material needs, water usage, air emissions and waste at the source.

Source Reduction, One Piece at a Time

GP’s unique dispensing systems for paper towels, tissue, napkins, soap and cutlery have been proven to reduce consumption in away-from-home environments. The enMotion®, Cormatic®, System 3000® and SmartStock® dispensers work by controlling the amount of product dispensed. The enMotion® “touchless” towel dispenser reduces waste at the source, improves hygiene for consumers and reduces paper usage by up to 30 percent. Innovative product designs, including the Big Fold® C-fold replacement towel and EasyNap® dispenser napkins, reduce usage and waste by 30 percent compared with other standard products. GP’s Compact® coreless bath tissue reduces packaging by up to 95 percent versus standard bath tissue by eliminating cardboard cores, inner wraps and outer corrugated packaging.


Moving Products Cleanly and Efficiently with SmartWay®

Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products is a member of the SmartWay® Transport Partnership, an innovative collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the freight industry designed to increase energy efficiency and significantly reduce air pollution. As part of its participation, GP has:

  •  Increased its intermodal shipping (truck to rail to truck) to reduce fuel consumption
  •  Instituted a non-idle policy at all of GP’s consumer product mills, asking drivers to turn off their engines while waiting to be loaded or unloaded
  • Cut down on deadhead trips, when trucks return empty

Smart Stock Dispenser

Georgia-Pacific goes full circle when it comes to paper recovery and recycling. GP Harmon Recycling, a Georgia-Pacific company, is one of the world’s largest buyers and sellers of wastepaper, and GP uses approximately 3 million tons of recovered paper and paperboard in its facilities. That’s just part of the story.

enMotion Dispenser

From Washroom to Showroom

Georgia-Pacific Professional’s “Return-Refurbish-Recycle Dispenser Recovery Program” offers customers a sustainable end-of-life solution for their existing older paper towel dispensers.

Those dispensers that can be refurbished are; those that can’t are recycled into plastic components used in automobiles. The program recycles enMotion® and other dispensers, and provides the customer with documentation that the dispensers have been ‘put to rest’ sustainably. More than 20,000 dispensers have been recycled to date.

Paper Recycling... A Big Priority and Big Business for GP

Americans recycled 334 pounds of wastepaper per person in 2010* and global demand for wastepaper is climbing. Georgia-Pacific consumes approximately 3 million tons of recovered paper, using it in many products including tissue and towels, office paper, containerboard and corrugated boxes. GP Harmon Recycling makes sure Georgia-Pacific facilities are well-positioned to meet their recovered fiber needs, as well as addressing the growing demand for recovered paper around the world. GP Harmon manages nearly 13 percent of the U.S. supply of wastepaper, purchasing about 7 million tons of recovered paper annually. GP’s Halsey, Ore., paper recycling facility diverts nearly 200,000 tons of wastepaper per year from West Coast landfills and uses it to produce bright white pulp without the aid of chlorine or chlorine compounds. The pulp is used for business papers and towel and tissue products. Additionally, 100 percent of the paper that covers GP’s ToughRock® gypsum drywall is recycled, and has been for nearly 50 years.


Paper and Cardboard to Recycle

Cups to Compost

Choose GP Recycled Products

Georgia-Pacific is the largest producer of recycled away-from-home tissue products, offering more than 200 products that contain up to 100 percent recycled fiber. GP’s Envision® line of washroom and tabletop products meets or exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended guidelines for total and post-consumer recycled fiber content. Our Georgia-Pacific Standard Recycled Multipurpose paper contains 30% post-consumer fiber. Additionally, Spectrum® papers offer recycled options with a line of 30% recycled content papers and, in select markets, 100% recycled content papers. Consumers who want paper towels, napkins and bath tissue with recycled content can choose Mardi Gras® and Soft ‘n Gentle® brands.

From Cups to Compost

Until recently, most commercial composting facilities didn’t take used paperboard cups with a polyethylene (PE) coating because the coating wouldn’t break down during the composting process. Advances in technology have enabled commercial composters to accept and process materials that they were previously unable to use. A series of Georgia-Pacific lab and field tests showed PE-coated paper cups may be processed in commercial composting facilities that have final screening capability, where these facilities are available. Being able to compost products like GP PerfecTouch® hot cups, which are composed of about 80 percent wood fiber, diverts materials from landfills to a beneficial reuse and ultimately reduces costs for consumers, businesses and municipalities.

Recycling – It’s Not Just for Paper Anymore

GP Harmon Recycling is also in the business of recovering metal, plastic and even X-ray film. In 2007, the company began collecting plastic and metal grades that are expensive for customers to dispose of on their own. This includes steel and aluminum cans, plastic films, crates, garment hangers, steel baling wire and other metals. The company also saw a business opportunity in silver-based X-ray and lithographic film recycling, prompted by the growth of the health care service industry, the rising cost of silver, and increased awareness of the environmental impact of these materials. Today, GP Harmon manages more than 150,000 tons of nonpaper recyclable material annually.

Waste not. It’s good business, and it’s good for the environment. Whether reclaiming waste for energy or for making useful products, GP looks for ways to maximize resources and improve efficiency.

Innovative Ways with Waste

By-products from Georgia-Pacific processes often end up paving roads, making grass grow or providing a strong foundation for roads. The Rincon, Ga., and Wauna, Ore., paper mills have used ash from their power boilers, which would otherwise be landfilled, for road stabilization and building. The Rincon mill also beneficially reused the plastic tailings that came in as contaminants with the bales of recovered paper the mill uses to make tissue products. These tailings were used to help close out a paper mill waste disposal area. Local farmers and turf growers benefit from waste that is turned into fertilizer in several GP plant communities. The Halsey, Ore., mill annually turns 600 dry tons of recycled paper residual into a commodity valued by local farmers for the production of grass seed. Gypsum waste in California is used as an agricultural soil amendment.


Recycling at Georgia-Pacific


Waste Fuels Our Facilities

Bark, wood residues and by-products from pulping are used to create energy at GP building products and paper plants. Known as “woody biomass” fuels, they supply more than 50 percent of the energy required for GP’s operations. In fact, GP is responsible for more than 12 percent of the electricity generated from renewable woody biomass in the entire U.S. While we use most of this renewable energy, GP also supports renewable energy development by selling some of it in the form of renewable energy certificates. Biomass fuels reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and demand for purchased electricity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Chestnut Trees  

Verifying Our Wood Procurement Practices

Georgia-Pacific has taken several steps to provide assurance to our customers that we are responsibly sourcing wood and fiber for our pulp, paper and wood products operations.

Our ongoing actions include:

  • Certification of our wood and fiber sourcing practices;
  • An independent analysis for controlled wood risk in the basins where we operate; and
  • Implementation of chain of custody programs.

Helping Bring Back the American Chestnut

Georgia-Pacific is working to bring back the American Chestnut near the Georgia-Pacific Big Island, Virginia, mill. The species was nearly wiped out by a fungal disease in the early 1900s. But working in partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation, Georgia-Pacific has planted over 500 saplings on mill property. The company has a 20–year commitment to maintain and manage the test plot.


Pushing for Greater Recovery

U.S. paper producers have set a goal of recovering 70 percent of the paper produced in the United States by 2020. In 2015, the industry recovered 66.8 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S., nearly doubling the rate of recovery since 1990. The paper recovery goal is one of six sustainability goals established by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) as part of its Better Practices Better Planet 2020 initiative. GP supports this effort, which includes one of the most extensive and quantifiable sets of sustainability goals of any major manufacturing industry in the United States.


Building Better Environments

Georgia-Pacific’s innovative products can help improve indoor and outdoor environments. GP’s DensArmor Plus® interior drywall is the first gypsum drywall to be GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold certified for low VOC emissions. The Dens® family of gypsum products resists moisture and potential mold growth during and after construction. And for nearly 30 years, versatile and durable DensDeck® roof boards have protected commercial structures all over the world. GP’s low-emission resins work has positive implications for our customers and = consumers as well. Responding to the needs of fiberglass insulation and high pressure laminate manufacturers, GP has developed low-formaldehyde emitting resins that improve indoor air quality and help our customers meet GREENGUARD certification requirements when our resins are used in their products. Our low formaldehyde resins also improve our customers’ workplace environments while significantly reducing facility emissions.