Environment & Sustainability
Cascades achieves waste reduction goal
By Cindy Macdonald
Cascades has exceeded the target for re-using residual materials that was set in its 2013-2015 Sustainable Development Plan. The company gave a second life to 76 per cent of the residual materials generated by its plants, exceeding its target of 71 per cent. Over this three-year period, a total of 1.4 million tonnes of residuals were recovered.
“Cascades was founded with the aspiration to re-imagine commodity product manufacturing by prioritizing the use of recycled fibre. This business model allows us to divert millions of tonnes of used paper and cardboard from landfill each year. For us to have the smallest ecological footprint possible, we also chose to focus on giving a new lease on life to our own residual materials,” explained Mario Plourde, the company’s president and CEO.
The bales of used paper bought by Cascades to serve as raw material can contain up to 10 per cent contaminants (plastic, metal, glass, etc). The company must therefore manage a large amount of diverse residual materials. Other categories of residuals are also derived from Cascades’ manufacturing process: mixed sludge and deinking sludge. These two by-products are now used for different purposes: animal bedding, liming material for farming, fill layer in cardboard production, restoration of damaged sites and capping material for sanitary landfill sites.
Over the past years, Cascades has made considerable efforts to find new uses for certain materials. Among other initiatives, the company introduced a waste-to-energy program at Greenpac in Niagara Falls, New York in 2015. A large part of the plant’s residuals is sent to its neighbor, Covanta, a waste-to-energy company, which converts the residual materials into steam that Greenpac, in turn, uses to dry the paper it manufactures. Another portion of these residuals is recovered by Frontier Fibers, LLC, which extracts its metal component and sends what’s left over to waste-to-energy facilities. These partnerships allow the plant to divert from landfill 74 per cent of the residuals it generates. This percentage will be even higher in 2016, after one full year in the circular economy.
“We are proud to have found an opportunity to make use of these diverse materials, which have high calorific potential. Covanta proved to be highly adaptable throughout our relationship, and they played a big role in helping us achieve our goal,” said Léon Marineau, vice-president, environment.
Two Cascades plants, Cascades Sonoco in Birmingham, Alabama and Norampac in Etobicoke, Ontario, have achieved zero landfill status thanks to a partnership with nearby cogeneration power production facilities. By staying on the lookout for innovative solutions, Cascades’ teams have enabled the company to meet, and even exceed, the results it hoped for.
Cascades produces, converts and markets packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibres.