Technical Theme: Environment

Cascades Tissue Group goes Processed Chlorine Free (PCF)

Cascades Tissue Group gained Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) certification for its North Carolina-based site in 2003. Here, president and chief executive Suzanne Blanchet explains to TW how the process was achieved, and what environmental and cost savings have been made since its implementation.

“Processed Chlorine Free certification is a means to continuously reduce a tissue manufacturer’s environmental impact,” says Suzanne Blanchet, president and chief executive of Cascades Tissue Group. Next year marks the tenth year the company has had the certification, after it submitted an application to the Chlorine Free Products Association to receive the “CFPA PCF Mark Certification” in 2003.

Blanchet says the company required the standard in order to promote its products as environmentally-preferable. According to the Ecolabel Index, Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) audits require “a chain of custody for all raw materials”. This measures the impact of a manufacturing process on the environment, and can include water and energy use, chemistry, carbon gas releases, reviews environmental policy and permit compliance as well as financial performance.

The certification process involves an on-site audit every two years, where the manufacturing equipment and processes are inspected as per specific criteria, including environmental standards, production processes and labeling requirements.

Cascades Tissue Group’s Rockingham site is a key contributor in the manufacture and distribution of tissue paper products in the Away-from-Home (AfH) and consumer US markets. The facility has both a papermaking department, comprised of paper machines, deinking lines, and a brightening process, as well as a converting department, and produces 150 tonnes per day of tissue products. Products including bathroom tissue, towels, napkins and facial tissue are made entirely from recycled fibre using only post-consumer recycled material as its source of fibre. Cascades trademarks manufactured at this facility are North River, Cascades Elite, and Decor, as well as private label store-brand products for major chains and drugstores.

Here, Blanchet explains to TW what was involved in implementing the process at its Rockingham site, and what the results are nearly 10 years later.

TW: What is CFPA?

SB:  “The Chlorine Free Products Association (CFPA) is an independent not-for-profit standard setting association registered in 1994 in the state of Illinois, USA. Its key mission is to promote sustainable manufacturing practices, and educate consumers on environmentallypreferable alternatives.”

TW: What does the certification process entail?

SB:  “The certification process begins with an application for certification, followed by a cost proposal and service agreement for a five-year period. On-site audits are performed every two years. Auditing fees and expenses are the sole responsibility of the applicant. Prior to the audit, the applicant must provide documented control systems, and a list of chemicals (CAS & MSDS). “The audit is based upon Sustainable Manufacturing Initiatives (SMI) principals, and involves as key components, a chain of custody for all raw materials, and the environmental impact of manufacturing processes on water and energy usage. A ranking on a Sustainability Index (SI) is awarded with a maximum SI ranking of 1350 points.”

TW: What does the Sustainability Index (SI) measure?

SB:  “It measures: environmental policy, environmental management, mill process, forestry certification (when applicable), environmental risk management, product stewardship, public information, environmental compliance and employee recognition.”

TW: What SI results were obtained at Rockingham?

SB:  “After having performed an on-site audit for the first time in April 2003, CFPA published the final Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative (SMI) report in June of 2003, with a total ranking of 590 points of the 1350 available points; most of which were awarded because of their non-chlorine bleaching process. Since 2003 the Rockingham, North Carolina Mill has improved significantly, and in 2011 achieved an SI ranking of 1240.

“In the last decade, major efforts were put towards further reducing water consumption even if the performance was already far better than competition as per Graphs 1&2.” “In a continued effort to improve our processes and to satisfy “green product” demands that have less negative impacts on air, water, and earth, we have continuously improved our process, maintained this certification, and increased our SI score by 110% in eight years.”

TW: What are the benefits for Cascades Tissue Group?

SB:  “Cascades Tissue Group’s operations manufacture 600,000 tonnes of tissue products per year. On that basis the table below demonstrates the significant differences in water and energy consumption between Cascades Tissue Group and the Canadian and US competition for the metric tonnes produced in 2010.

“For the same production by competitors, Cascades Tissue Group saves between 16bn and 33bn USG of water, and between 2.6m and 16.6m gigajoules of energy on an annual basis.”

TW: What can be learned from the certification process? How is it beneficial to your customers?

SB:  “The CFPA certification is forcing mills to be transparent about their operations and to improve their environmental performances. True sustainability shall be measured in low gallons of fresh water and low gigajoules of energy consumed per tons produced, not strictly by the presence of a logo on a package.”

According to the Ecolabel Index, Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) audits require “a chain of custody for all raw materials”. It measures the impact of a manufacturing process on the environment, including water and energy use, chemistry, carbon gas releases, reviews environmental policy and permit compliance, reviews ethical management practices and compliance, financial performance, product stewardship, public information, funding of research and development, and employee recognition. Once the audit is complete, the numbers are then calculated to provide a ranking on a Sustainability Index. Processes or products that are manufactured free of chlorine chemistry are identified with the TCF {Totally Chlorine Free} or PCF {Processed Chlorine Free} Trademarks. The CFPA has no financial interest in any manufacturer or company of the products it certifies.”

Case Study Sources: Conservatree Internet site, Sustainability 2015 – Kruger Internet site, K-C sustainability report Internet site, Wikipedia information on average bathtub volumes and average electricity usage by home in USA, CFPA site and certification documentation, and Cascades 2003 to 2011 production reports