Simpson Tacoma's "footprint" topic of Dept. of Ecology meeting

Simpson Tacoma Kraft is measuring its “footprint” on the surrounding community, and the public can take a peek at the draft results March 31. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Simpson Tacoma Kraft, 801 Portland Avenue, Tacoma. The public will learn about the innovative tool that calculates the mill’s social, economic and environmental presence. Public feedback could be used to help fine-tune the data tool. Final footprint results will be available this summer. The meeting is sponsored by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), which developed the footprint measurement tool with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Simpson is one of four pulp-and-paper mills actively participating in this project. The other mills include Grays Harbor Paper, Nippon Paper in Port Angeles and the Boise Cascade mill in Wallula. “One goal of the project is to measure improvements, reductions and unintended tradeoffs of business practices,” said Laurie Davies, Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources program manager. “In doing this, we hope to help companies achieve greater levels of sustainability.”

In addition to what’s covered by various permits, each mill looks at many unregulated aspects of its business practices, such as energy use and the percent of reused or recycled materials in an end product. The final footprint can be used to help show companies where they can save energy, water, materials and money. Over the past year, the participating companies have been developing baseline footprints.