Glatfelter’s North American mills are fully integrated operations that generate most of their own electricity for use in the production of pulp and paper. Approximately 50% of the electricity we produce is generated from biomass and considered to be carbon neutral.
Biomass is generally defined as biological material derived from recently living organisms, including plants and trees. It is a renewable energy source unlike other natural resources such as petroleum, coal, and nuclear fuels. Glatfelter’s North American mills utilize biomass to generate electricity that is considered carbon neutral. The steam produced from the biomass is used both to turn our generators to produce electricity and to dry the paper on our paper machines. This makes our process much more efficient because we use the steam twice and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Biomass comes primarily from our wood pulping and chipping operations. Lignin (the glue-like material that holds trees together), bark, saw dust and irregularly sized wood chips that cannot be used in the pulping process are used as biofuel to power our boilers and steam electric generators as described above.
What is Biofuel?
Biomass fuels or biofuels reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, compared to typical fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Biofuels are carbon neutral because the carbon released during the use of the fuel is reabsorbed and balanced by the carbon absorbed by new plant growth - underscoring the importance of sustainable forestry. When these plants or trees are then harvested, the cycle repeats itself. Thus the use of carbon neutral fuels does not result in an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which means they do not contribute to global warming.
Sustainable Forestry is important because forests do not continue to accumulate carbon indefinitely. They eventually approach maturity and achieve, over time, a balance between the carbon taken up in photosynthesis and the carbon released. So under good forestry stewardship, trees can be harvested for pulp, paper and energy while new ones take over to carry on the job of reabsorbing carbon.
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