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Paper Recycling Energy Savings and GHG Reduction - Myth or Reality?

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White Paper

Subhash Deodhar, Senior Consultant, Fisher International

It’s generally assumed that making paper using recycled fibers saves energy compared to using virgin fibers, and saving energy is presumed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So, with the current spotlight on climate change, which paper manufacturing is preferable – virgin or recycling?

The analysis is based on insights from Fisher International’s FisherSolveTM Next platform. Fisher International maintains a comprehensive database of paper mills across the globe producing more than 50 tons of paper per day. FisherSolveTM Next contains detailed process-equipment and production data for about 3500 paper mills around the world. The grade of paper manufactured dictates manufacturing process and overall energy usage. So, any valid comparison must be made between mills making similar grades of paper.

Total energy usage in this article is calculated by combining energy in fuels used for combustion and purchased electricity. For comparing mill sites, total energy usage is expressed in gigajoules (GJ) per finished metric ton (FMT).

Types of grades selected for comparison:

  • Printing and Writing – Uncoated Freesheet (Fine Paper) mills using virgin pulp and/or recycled fiber

  • Packaging – Linerboard mills using virgin pulp and/or recycled fiber

  • Packaging – Corrugated Medium mills using virgin pulp and/or recycled fiber

  • Newsprint mills using virgin pulp and/or recycled fiber

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