Sappi North America receives 2020 AF&PA leadership in sustainability award

Sappi North America, Inc., a leading producer and supplier of diversified paper, packaging products and pulp, was named a recipient of the Leadership in Sustainability – Water Award from the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) as part of its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Sustainability Awards program. Sappi was recognized for its "Caustic Reclaim and Reuse" project at its Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, Maine.


The "Caustic Reclaim and Reuse" project aimed to reduce the volume of purchased chemicals required to meet the mill's boiler flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) environmental goals, as well as offset the acid usage in its onsite waste treatment plant. The Somerset Mill operates a large steam plant and utilizes demineralized water as a main makeup water source for its recovery boiler and two multi-fuel power boilers.  This project repurposes a large source of spent caustic from the demineralizer regeneration operation to meet flue-gas desulfurization goals, as well as offsets purchased acid usage in its onsite waste water treatment plant as a consequence of the spent caustic utilization.


"Sustainability remains Sappi's priority and is critical to our strategy. At the Somerset Mill, we strive to challenge industry standards and ourselves to create innovative methods to better our environment," says Sean Wallace, Managing Director, Sappi Somerset Mill. "Receiving this recognition from AF&PA is an honor, and we look forward to being a part of the industry's step toward the association's 'Better Practices, Better Planet 2020' sustainability goals."


The project is expected to significantly reduce overall caustic purchases as well as acid usage for effluent treatment. The "reclaimed caustic" concentration to the wet industrial scrubber is significantly lower than the concentration of "fresh" caustic.  So, not only is the spent caustic reclaimed from the sewer, but so is the water that is diluting it to the lower concentration.  This added "reclaimed water" in turn reduces the "fresh" water demand to meet the FGD scrubber evaporation requirements by 12,000 gal/day. By implementing a similar process, other mills can reduce chemical demand by reusing demineralized regeneration caustic and benefit the mill's overall fiscal position.


"We had a record number of submissions to our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 awards program, which underscores that sustainability is a top priority for our industry, even in the midst of a global pandemic," said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. "I continue to be impressed by our industry's commitment to leadership in sustainability. Our members are constantly striving to reach new limits of possibility and these awards give us an opportunity to shine a spotlight on innovative sustainability success stories."


AF&PA's Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 Sustainability Initiative is one of the most comprehensive sets of sustainability goals established for a U.S. manufacturing industry, nearly a decade ago. The initiative recognizes the three essential pillars of sustainability — economic, environmental and social — interdependent factors that collectively support long-term viability, growth and improvement. The Sustainability Award winners demonstrate the industry's long-held commitment to improving practices to build a better planet today.


The 2020 AF&PA Sustainability Award winners were selected by a judging panel of sustainability experts from the Department of Energy, GreenBlue, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Quad Packaging, Two Sides North America and Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology.