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Eco+ Innovation

Sustainability and innovation have long been embedded into our values, processes and products. From our sustainably managed land and forests, we provide an array of products based on our vast renewable resource. And although our current forest products provide significant environmental benefits themselves, such as our forests’ ecosystem services and our naturally low-carbon wood products, we are continually striving to do more.

To better track and understand the benefits of our investments into our operations and our new product innovations that go beyond our standard baseline, we’ve developed a new indicator called Eco+ Innovation.

We qualify our investments as Eco+ Investments and new product sales as Eco+ Revenues if they meet one or more of the following criteria, without negatively affecting their overall sustainability profile:

  • Enables substitution of nonrenewable energy or materials with renewable resources.
  • Results show significant improvement in or exceeds relevant requirements for:
    • energy efficiency
    • resource conservation, efficiency, recovery or yield
    • percent of fiber or wood sourced from certified forests
    • water use per unit of production
    • absolute GHG emissions
    • air emissions, solid waste to landfill, or wastewater pollutant discharges per unit of production

We consider “significant improvement” to generally mean at least ten percent on an annual, life cycle or harvest rotation basis. Once qualified and implemented, the entire revenue of a product or value of a project is counted towards the reported dollar amount.

In 2012, we invested $82 million in Eco+ Investment projects to improve our business operation, which we expect will also result in significant sustainability improvements. We also generated $102 million in Eco+ Revenues from new products and services that have an improved environmental profile.


Arborite® Fertilizer: Less Nitrogen, Less Volatility, Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In 2012, we generated Eco+ Revenues from sales royalties and licensing of our innovative fertilizer technology, Arborite®, to Gavilon, an agriculture-focused distribution company. Our Arborite® technology was originally developed for use in forest fertilization and has been used on more than 2.5 million acres of our own timberlands since 1999. The primary market for Arborite has shifted to agriculture since its introduction in 2009. Arborite allows users to reduce nitrogen rates by as much as 20 percent by reducing volatility while maintaining productivity. Lower nitrogen rates and reduced volatility can mean lower greenhouse gas emissions, less nitrogen runoff and more nitrogen directed to the crops.

Evaporator Upgrade: Less Water Consumed, Improved Water Quality

One of our Eco+ Investments in 2012 was to upgrade the evaporators at our Grande Prairie, Alberta, Cellulose Fibers mill. This upgrade optimized the mill’s energy efficiency and enables the production of 23 megawatts of biomass-derived energy. The project also increased the mill’s capability to participate in Alberta’s greenhouse gas reduction program by selling Emissions Performance Credits. In addition, we estimate the project will reduce our water consumption by 8 percent and improve our biochemical oxygen demand, a water quality indicator, by 13 percent. Read more about this story to the right.

Story Image
Just one section of Grande Prairie's evaporator arrives at its destination.
'Pulp on the side'
Well, not exactly! But green power generator is boosting revenue in Grande Prairie

You can find the journey archived in a Daily Planet segment on the Discovery Channel: How an industrial moving company engineered 12 trucks and trailers to haul a new multiple-effect evaporator from Idaho to Alberta. A big job? One section alone was 217 feet long.

When it arrived at the Grande Prairie site in late 2011, special precautions were taken to assemble the sizable structure at Weyerhaeuser's Cellulose Fibers mill, which produces pulp for the tissue and paper towel industry.

The evaporator, the third phase in a 10-year, multi-million dollar energy-efficiency project that includes a new recovery boiler and turbine generator, is helping turn the mill into a green-power superhero.

"We're in a unique position to create green energy," says Grant Bourree, Grande Prairie's environmental manager. "We use a sustainable resource, burn our biomass residuals for fuel, process them through an efficient system and generate enough electricity not only to run the mill, but also to sell on the market."

The high-efficiency evaporator — funded by Weyerhaeuser and provincial and federal Canadian governments — captures up to 100,000 more pounds of excess steam per hour than the old unit. Together with the turbine, this allows Grande Prairie to produce about 23 megawatts of excess green electricity, which it sells to the Alberta grid. As a second revenue source for the mill, the sales add about $21 million to the bottom line.

Laughs Bourree, "We're starting to think of ourselves as a power plant with pulp on the side."

Speaking of pulp: With the new efficiencies, Grande Prairie has added 22,000 air dried metric tonnes, bringing its annual production to 383,000 tonnes.

"We're definitely excited about the benefits we've seen," says Lisa Hall, project coordinator. "We worked closely with Weyerhaeuser Engineering Services to make sure everything fit."

With the new evaporator, turbine generator and recovery system, the mill will:

  • Reduce biological oxygen demand in the effluent by 13 percent.
  • Reduce water usage by 10 percent.
  • Decrease SO2 emissions from the Recovery Boiler from 50 parts per million to almost zero.
  • Improve the process to reclaim more chemicals.
  • Provide green energy to the grid to help reduce CO2 and greenhouse gases.

Carbon credits
In addition, the mill has surpassed by 25 percentage points the requirement from the Alberta government for a 12 percent reduction in carbon emissions, allowing Grande Prairie to earn carbon credits that can be banked or sold to other facilities.

"These investments to the Grande Prairie mill," says Bourree, "are paying off with significant environmental benefits, both in reducing our impact and creating green, renewable energy on a sustainable basis."

Last updated July 3, 2013