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Sustainable Paper Practices and Strategy: Update from Rolland Paper

By Brian Collett


The rewards of sustainable paper manufacture are outlined in a research report as a fight back against green-minded companies calling for all businesses to go paperless and embrace green principles.

Rolland, the large commercial paper producer based in Montreal, made the case as more than 100 North American companies removed or changed their anti-paper claims – and as it beefed up its own campaign for responsible paper production and use, and against greenwashing—the practice of falsely maintaining that certain activities are environmentally desirable.

Building on its research, Rolland is emphasizing the importance of working closely with wood fiber suppliers and NGOs to promote acceptable paper production, sustainable forest management, protection of endangered forests and other good environmental policies.

The company says: “Sustainability has always been at the heart of our core business. It’s in our DNA.”

As part of the anti-greenwash and pro-sustainability message Rolland says it is “unrealistic” to expect that the modern business world will ever be entirely paperless.

“However,” it says, “we believe focusing on production, consumption and the supply chain connecting all stakeholders can lead to a more sustainable society.”

The group’s all-encompassing case is that good practice principles apply throughout, from tree-felling to the discarding of used Rolland paper, stating that its recycled products include up to 100 per cent post-consumer waste content.

A company statement claims: “We at Rolland are proud to say that our main source of raw material is the ‘urban forest’ – recycling bins in cities and towns across the American north-east, Ontario and Quebec.

“Two state-of-the art recycle fiber facilities transform this post-consumer waste into premium recycled fiber that feeds our paper mill.”

Even the residues from the manufacturing process are sold to farmers who re-use them to feed their soil. “This makes us part of the circular economy,” says Rolland.

The principal energy source used in manufacture is biogas, a mixture mainly of carbon dioxide and methane. The company reports: “[Biogas] is transported in a dedicated eight-mile pipeline from a nearby landfill to fulfill 93 per cent of our paper mill’s thermal needs.

“Not only is biogas a renewable energy, it reduces our carbon dioxide emissions by 70,000 tons, or 23,400 compact cars, annually.”

Rolland’s other boast is that it is the only North American fine paper maker using biogas energy.

The company’s final words are a recommendation to fellow manufacturers: “By using the right sustainable paper options, companies can continue to use paper and achieve a substantial improvement in their ecological balance sheets at the same time.”