Simpson Tacoma Kraft, Department of Ecology will measure industrial footprint

How does an industrial facility measure its impact on the surrounding community? And with a voluntary commitment to sustainable practices, can it improve its environmental, economic and social “footprint” over time?

These are the questions the Washington Department of Ecology and Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company, LLC will explore under a new partnership called the “Industrial Footprint Project.” The Tacoma pulp and paper mill has volunteered, along with three other pulp and paper mills in the state, to provide baseline data to Ecology on a range of environmental, economic and social indicators.

Working with a consultant, stakeholders and the participating mills, Ecology will use the data to create a scoring system to establish a “footprint” measurement for each facility. The footprint will serve as a baseline to help companies set targets for improving over time.

Environmental data to be collected includes waste streams, recycling, emissions, water consumption and purchase of raw materials. One part of the project will be an energy challenge-asking each facility to voluntarily reduce their energy usage. On the economic side, some data analyzed will include jobs provided and the costs of good and services. Social indicators may include community involvement, health and safety records or good neighbor efforts.

Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company is an integrated pulp and paper manufacturing mill located on the Commencement Bay waterfront in Tacoma, Washington. It produces upwards of 1300 tons per day of bleached and unbleached packaging-grade paper and unbleached kraft pulp. About one-third of the fiber used comes from recycling old corrugated containers.

“We hope to provide good environmental results that make sense for the mill and the community,” said Cullen Stephenson, manager of Ecology’s Solid Waste Program. “These facilities are partnering with us voluntarily. We are advisors, helping encourage more sustainable practices and communities. This is a laboratory for a new way of doing business.”

Three other pulp and paper mills are also joining Ecology in similar partnerships. The others will be formally announced later this month.

“Modern manufacturing businesses must be leaders not only in bringing economic value to their owners and communities but also in assuring that they are true stewards of the environment and responsible members of the community,” commented Don Johnson, vice president and general manager of Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company.