Sustainability takes on many forms for it to benefit the environment, communities, and corporations. From an environmental and community perspective, it means implementing the processes and procedures that will preserve natural resources and keep neighbors safe. Companies must achieve this with efficient sustainability processes that improve operations. Part of the responsibility from a corporate perspective is also to participate in dialogues to share best practices to exchange ideas and establish business practices that benefit Mother Nature and the bottom line.

It is with that in mind that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition held SPC Advance 2018, a two-day event in Boston aimed to educate members on smart practices for improving sustainability through packaging, as well as the benefits of doing so. The conference was part of the coalition’s mission to make packaging more sustainable. Members, including Seaman Paper, are committed to creating packaging that is good for people and the environment.

Country’s Biggest Companies Share Ideas

Some of the country’s largest corporations, such as from 3M, Nike, Starbucks, and Estee Lauder, led informative sessions about the specific ways their own businesses worked to improve overall sustainability and how these strategies led to quantifiable success for their companies and the environment. Since the conference was held in Boston, a mere hour east of Seaman Paper’s global headquarters, 11 attendees spent one day touring the facilities to see first-hand the daily operations. It was done with the mindset of sharing initiatives that could be implemented at fellow member facilities.

While touring two facilities, the visitors learned of the Seaman Paper initiatives. Many processes were borne out of the company being part of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA). As a member, Seaman Paper contributes to the AF&PA’s ongoing Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 program, which encourages members to adopt sustainable consumption and production strategies. By 2020, Seaman and other AF&PA organizations aim to reach goals centered around optimizing energy efficiency, increasing paper recovery for recycling, minimizing greenhouse gas emission, utilizing sustainable forestry, reducing water use, and improving worker safety.

Some processes shown to the SPC attendees on September 26 were recognized by the AF&PA when it awarded Seaman Paper a 2017 Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety. Working toward common goals with the AF&PA allows Seaman Paper to gauge the effectiveness of its efforts and contribution, and adjust operations accordingly.

SPC Member Get First-hand Look at Sustainability  

The main stop on the tour was the paper mill in Otter River, MA. The facility was a pivotal component of Seaman Paper earning its Certification for Chain of Custody under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Located next to the Otter River, the mill uses about 810,000 gallons of water from the tributary each day. The SPC members where shown how the water used to manufacture retail packaging tissue, custom tissue, food service wraps, and other paper products receives the necessary primary and secondary treatment from Seaman’s private treatment plant, where 99% of contaminants are removed. The process is so thorough that the water returns to the river cleaner than when it was brought into the mill.

The private wastewater treatment plant was of particular interest, as it aligns with a major focal point of SPC Advance this year. A series of All At Sea sessions, which explored the degree of severity of the current marine debris crisis as well as potential solutions from multiple viewpoints, was held at the conference. The Otter River flows northeast and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport, MA.

Soft Steps Forward

Seaman Paper incorporates crucial sustainability policies and strategies into the Soft Steps Forward initiative. As a recognized leader, Seaman Paper understands its responsibility to leave a lasting impact on the community and environment. This means providing the highest quality product to improve overall satisfaction among customers, and ensuring only a positive effect on the environment. The initiative calls for continuous monitoring, analysis and performance improvements in three key areas:

  • Environmental and Emissions – greenhouse gas emissions have been significantly reduced by fueling wood-fired boilers with carbon neutral biomass derived from wood waste. The paper machines’ variable speed drives use only the energy needed, further improving efficiency. All residual waste is shipped to a composting factory, where it gets mixed with chicken manure and locally sourced berry rinds, creating topsoil to be sold to local homes and businesses.
  • Electrical and Thermal Energy – Seventeen percent (17%) of all electricity used in mill production is generated via Seaman’s cogeneration and landfill gasification.
  • Fiber and Recycling – Seaman Papers’ furnish uses 50% pre-consumer recycled fiber, and an average of 10% post-consumer fiber is used in the SatinWrap® product line.

Among the SPC members who attended the tour were GreenBlue, Delfort USA, Expera Specialty Solutions, Weyerhauser, Dart Container, Seda, Rochester Institute of Technology, Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology, The International Group and Solvay. Please check back to our blog soon, as we will conduct Q&As with each to learn about their initiatives and their views on how sustainability efforts are benefiting the industry, customers, and the environment. If you want to learn more about Seaman Paper’s program, visit the sustainability page.