12.5% of Resolute's fiber supply comes from recovered fiber, including ONP (old newspapers), SOP (sorted office paper) and OMG (old magazines).
In addition to other facilities that utilize recycled fiber, we operate two (Thorold, Ontario, and Mokpo, South Korea) newsprint mills that use 100% recycled furnish. We are also the only producer of air-dried recycled bleached kraft pulp in North America (Fairmont, West Virginia, and Menominee, Michigan).
In 2013, we used 1.1 million metric tons of recovered paper in our production processes, and the recycled fiber content in the newsprint we produced averaged 18%.
We manufacture approximately 30 different grades of paper with recycled content, and seven of our pulp and paper mills have de-inking facilities: Augusta (Georgia), Calhoun (Tennessee), Fairmont, Menominee, Mokpo, Ponderay (Washington) and Thorold.
In addition to meeting customer requirements with recycled content collected from "urban forests", the use of recycled fiber reduces the amount of energy required to manufacture many paper products.
Balancing Virgin and Recycled Fiber
Wood fiber can theoretically be recycled up to seven times. But the fibers lose some of their strength with each round of recycling, becoming shorter and shorter until they can no longer be used for producing paper. Continuing input of virgin fiber is required to sustain the papermaking cycle.
A number of factors must be taken into consideration when assessing the appropriate blend and the product's environmental benefits:
- Raw materials ideally should be available close to the mill in order to minimize transport requirements and the fossil fuel emissions inherent in truck or rail transportation.
- Production of recycled grades tends to be concentrated at facilities in or near urban areas with ready access to supplies of recovered paper, while grades requiring high levels of virgin fiber are produced at mills situated in more remote, less populous regions adjacent to forests.
- It takes water, energy and chemicals to remove ink and other matter from recovered fiber. Putting recovered fiber into whiter, high-quality products, such as photocopy paper, results in greater fiber loss and impact on the environment. There is generally less environmental impact when recovered fiber is "down-cycled" into lower quality grades such as newsprint or cardboard.
Paper grade and intended end-use essentially dictate the basic fiber mix. Generally speaking, the higher the paper quality, the higher the level of virgin fiber required. The challenge is to come up with a fiber composition that will achieve the desired properties in terms of strength, opacity and brightness with the lowest possible environmental impact.
For more information on the efficient use of recovered fiber in paper, visit www.thepaperlifecycle.org.