Georgia‐Pacific works hard to reduce the amount of waste created by manufacturing processes. Sometimes, however, residual waste is an inevitable part of what we do. When that is the case, then we aim to get innovative with it. We have sought out third‐party companies and agencies to work with in order to turn trash into trays, pulp into pet bedding and gypsum into a soil conditioner.
Alternatives to the Landfill
GP's consumer products mill in Plattsburgh, NY, was determined to cut the amount of paper mill waste fiber, a by‐product from the water filtration process that usually went to the local landfill. It found a nearby company that wanted to use the fiber to make molded coffee cup trays. When they teamed up, the mill was able to keep more than 600 tons of fiber out of the landfill each year, while simultaneously helping make a useful product.
In Brunswick, GA, our cellulose mill was also looking for innovative ways to reduce the amount of waste sent to a landfill. One answer: partner with a manufacturer of animal bedding who could use the residual pulp fiber to make its products. The mill also works with others to recycle some of its waste into garden mulch, topsoil and soil amendments, and has examined each of its manufacturing waste streams to find ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Through these efforts, the mill has eliminated the waste it sends to the landfill by over 95%.
Putting Waste to Use
When GP employees needed to reclaim 77,000 cubic yards of unused gypsum from an idle plant in Utah, they found a hay farmer who wanted clean gypsum to use as a soil amendment. They tested samples and worked with local agencies to get approval for its use. Some of the gypsum was also used to make cement.
GP's Savannah River Mill in Rincon, GA, even found a use for the plastic tailings that came in as contaminants with the bales of recovered paper the mill uses to make tissue products. They were used to help close out a paper mill waste disposal area.
Reducing the amount of waste in manufacturing is a critical part of our mission, and so is the step beyond that – finding new and creative ways to transform the residual byproducts that are created. By putting former waste products to work, we help to reduce our environmental footprint and strengthen our commitment to sustainability.