At International Paper we are committed to continuous improvement in reducing our carbon footprint and improving our energy efficiency.
International Paper’s manufacturing processes generate and consume large amounts of energy. For well over a decade, International Paper has been focused on improving our energy efficiency. With energy as a significant cost, it makes financial as well as environmental sense to reduce the amount of energy we use. During the past five years, we have invested $495 million to reduce our annual energy purchases by 10 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs). This energy reduction is equal to 4,000 rail cars of coal or the energy to heat a Midwestern town of 71,000 people for a year.
Pulp and paper-making is the main manufacturing activity for most of International Paper’s products. We employ the kraft pulping process, which cooks wood in an alkaline solution, and separates the wood fibers from the natural glues and sugars that hold the tree together. Paper is then made from the fibers and the separated sugars are used as a biofuel burned to create energy.
Our energy production uses additional biomass-based energy sources such as forest residuals (like bark). This efficient use of resources enables our mills to be about 72 percent fueled by renewable carbon-neutral biomass. In essence, the same trees that provide the wood fiber for our products also efficiently provide the majority of the energy to make the products themselves.
We purchase fuels and electricity for the remaining (approximately 28 percent) energy needed to power our mills. We believe we can further reduce the use of purchased fuels, particularly fossil-based fuels (coal, natural gas, oil and other fuel types) and purchased steam and electricity. Our converting operations and non-manufacturing operations also have an impact, but it is less than 5 percent of our total energy use.
In 2015, energy efficiency in our mills improved by 4.7 percent compared with our 2010 baseline. Eight of our mills set monthly records for energy efficiency during 2015.