Sustainability in Practice: Brunswick Cellulose Receives Award for Water Use Reduction

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Last week, the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) recognized our commitment to environmental excellence at its annual conference. It presented the 2013 Leadership in Sustainability Water Award to our cellulose mill in Brunswick, Ga., for its “Water Use Reduction” project.

Jay Wright, manager of compliance and technology at Brunswick’s GP Cellulose mill, shares some of the details of the award-winning project:

What did the mill’s “Water Use Reduction” project entail?

At our cellulose mill we manufacture fluff pulp, which our customers around the world use to make a variety of products including paper, disposable diapers and hygiene products. A part of the production of fluff pulp involves using a bleaching process. This project installed a single-line bleach plant to replace three older pulp bleaching processes. The upgrade resulted in a reduction in overall groundwater use of nearly 10 million gallons per day, or 30 percent of the mill’s total daily use, since the new equipment became fully operational in the first quarter of 2012. The project also allows for a smaller energy footprint and lower air emissions from energy production.

What’s been the main impact of the project on the local community?

The primary benefit to our surrounding community of Brunswick, Ga., and Glynn County has been the reduction in groundwater use from the Floridan aquifer by nearly 10 million gallons per day. This aquifer is the primary drinking-water source for the area, and it is threatened in certain areas by saltwater intrusion.

What additional benefits does this reduction bring?

Reducing the mill’s use of groundwater means that more water is available for existing and potential future uses. Not only does this help protect the supply of natural resources in the area, the new bleach plant also allows for a smaller energy footprint, meaning more energy is potentially available for other users. Additionally, there are lower air emissions from energy production and use that benefit the community as a whole.

What does winning this award mean to Georgia-Pacific?

Water is incredibly important to our manufacturing processes at Georgia-Pacific and we’re constantly focused on using resources wisely while minimally impacting the environment. So when we’re recognized by our industry for those efforts, it makes us feel especially proud of our how we operate and how we value sustainability as an everyday practice. We’re also proud to be one of only five companies to receive a 2013 AF&PA Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Sustainability Award, and the first company to win an AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award two years in a row.

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