Almost 60% of the energy we use to make our paper products comes from biomass, a renewable energy source. We use two sources of biomass for generating energy:
Minimizing waste in our manufacturing process is important. Every day, our pulping processes take wood chips and separate the fiber from the lignin. That fiber is used to make our paper products. In a tree, lignin is the glue that holds the fibers together. We can’t make paper with lignin, but we’re able to use it as a fuel for our operations. And it’s a very important energy source to us. Over 85% of our renewable energy comes from the lignin we separate from the wood fibers in our pulping process.
Evergreen Packaging also coordinates with other local forest product industries, such as lumber mills, to use their leftover wood to generate energy. We help them by providing a market for this material—and it helps us generate additional renewable energy. Within our pulping facilities, we also separate out wood chips that do not meet quality standards needed for efficient process operations.
In addition to using renewable energy to power our operations, we use a very efficient process called cogeneration, or combined heat and power (CHP). The CHP process uses steam generation for on-site electricity generation and for process heat. This helps us reduce the use of electricity from our utility providers and avoid energy losses due to transmission of electricity.
According to the EPA’s Combined Heat and Power Partnership, using CHP provides economic, efficiency, environmental, and reliability benefits and plays an important role in meeting the U.S.’ energy needs. We generate over 50% of our electrical energy on-site through our CHP process.
Spotlight: Evergreen Solar Farm
In 2010, Evergreen Packaging worked with FLS Energy and Progress Energy to develop the largest solar facility of its kind in the eastern United States. The project was unique because it was being installed on a closed landfill site and would produce renewable energy to be purchased by the utility, Progress Energy, now Duke Energy Progress. "Landfill space is an ideal application for solar energy, and Evergreen Packaging was the ideal partner for this project," says Dale Freudenberger, CEO of FLS Energy. "Evergreen is a forward-looking company, and we will always be indebted to them for their willingness to take a chance on a small local solar company."
Since then, FLS Energy has become one of the leading solar developers in the country. “Evergreen played a very important role in making us the company we are today,” says Freudenberger. FLS developed over 225 megawatts of solar energy in 2016—enough to power approximately 34,000 average U.S. homes. Evergreen is proud to have provided the space for FLS to expand its achievements and goals.
And the contribution to community service and environmental stewardship continues. FLS conducts tours of the Evergreen Solar Farm for community members and students, and Evergreen representatives often attend.
The Evergreen Solar Farm has received a lot of business and media attention from all over the country, including queries about how to adapt landfill space for solar farms. FLS believes there are tremendous opportunities for job growth and expansion through renewable energy—including biomass, a significant source of energy for Evergreen Packaging. "We are on the brink of a new energy economy in the United States," says Freudenberger. "An economy that creates high-paying jobs, provides a safe and secure energy portfolio, and helps to leave this planet in a little better shape than we found it."
Video: Sustainability Story
Evergreen Packaging plays an active role in certified forestry. Learn more.