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Principles in Practice

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© 2001
Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation

April 2001





Bathurst Energy Generation

Hydro-electricity and biomass are often depicted as being among the most environmentally friendly sources of energy. These two sources represent key features of the energy profile for the Bathurst, New Brunswick, corrugating medium mill. Smurfit-Stone owns and operates a hydro-generating station on the Nepisiguit River 25 miles upstream from the mill. The output from this station is 12 MW at maximum water flows, with an average annual output of 6-7 MW. On the mill site, a hog fuel boiler provides steam for the mill processes and for a 5 MW turbine, which also helps limit the quantity of electricity that needs to be purchased from the public utility.

Recent investments will enable these clean energy sources to be available for several years to come. In March 2000, a $2.8 million (USD) investment was completed at the dam. In addition to rebuilding of sluiceway, this investment allowed the mill to replace the original structure and to handle an unlikely flood originating from extreme storm events or from the release of an ice jam upstream. An innovative technology was used, which involved the installation of an air controlled inflatable rubber dam. The project was executed by first building a cofferdam in front of the existing sluiceway to allow demolition of the old structure while maintaining power generation.

The hog fuel boiler was in operation at the mill since 1986; however, in the mid-1990s, it became obvious the boiler's atmospheric emissions of particulate matters did not meet modern standards. The emission control devices, which had consisted of multiclones, were replaced by a state-of-the-art electrostatic precipitator. The upgrade was completed in 1997, and required an investment of $2.86 million (USD). The emissions of particulate matters are now four to five times under the permit limitations.

As a net result of these investments, the fossil fuel consumption at the Bathurst mill is relatively low compared to similar operations in the area. Also, the mill needs to purchase only a fraction of its electricity (45 percent in 1999) from the public utility. Being partially self-sufficient, the mill is then well positioned to face future challenges.

Hydro generating station on the Nepisiguit River near Bathurst, New Brunswick, owned and operated by Smurfit-Stone Container orporation.

Principle in Practice:
To pursue energy conservation, efficiency, alternatives to fossil fuels, and ways to generate electricity

Smurfit-Stone is a leader in the use of combined heat and power technology, a process that saves fuel and reduces emissions to the atmosphere by using steam generated in our boilers twice: first, to drive turbines that generate electricity; and, second, to cook wood chips to make pulp or to dry the paper. Overall, approximately 72 percent of all of the electricity used by our mills is generated this way.

Zero Discharge

In many of our facilities in which we generate process wastewater, rather than discharging that water into the sewer system we reuse it in our processes. By recycling our process wastewater, we prevent pollution and incur no liability for discharges outside the plant. About 20 percent of our corrugated container plants are closing their water loop and going to zero discharge of any process effluent, creating the triple benefit of reduced effluent flow, water conservation, and reduced energy consumption.

The effluent re-use project, created by the Snowflake, Arizona, mill has earned the Environmental and Energy Achievement Award for Water Pollution Control from the American Forest and Paper Association. The Snowflake mill is now owned by Abitibi Consolidated, which operates the mill's medium machine for Smurfit-Stone. The mill continues to grow trees and forage crops in the high desert of Northern Arizona using mill effluent to irrigate more than 3000 acres of cropland.

The Snowflake project and other water conservation projects implemented at our mills have allowed us to reduce the amount of water we use to manufacture a ton of paper by more than 60 percent in the last 20 years.