At Georgia-Pacific’s Palatka, FL consumer products mill, water is crucial to everything from energy production to the precise paper stock recipes that eventually become the paper products people use every day. But the company’s Palatka team is committed to borrowing, rather than consuming, that water and returning the majority of it back to the natural environment safely.
For its focus on reducing unnecessary water usage, a recent project at the Palatka facility has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR Top Project for 2020. The mill’s kraft papermaking department team achieved a 40 percent water reduction in a 10-week period through investments in improved equipment and implementing ongoing monitoring of water usage.
“As a company, we believe in being responsible stewards of our natural resources,” said Mike Griffith, general manager of the Palatka mill. “Since 2018, we have placed considerable focus on how much water we use daily and how much we can save. This work exemplifies the type of collaboration and results we see across the Palatka team every day and I’m proud of the team for identifying opportunities that strengthen and improve our operations and conserve resources.”
“We evaluated our water systems used for making kraft paper and carefully mapped out where water was used – all the pipes and valves,” explained Jonathan Henley, technical capability leader for the kraft team at Palatka mill. “By understanding where water was going, how it was being used and flowing in the system, we could begin to tighten our system and reduce our usage over time.”
The Palatka mill has a history of striving for environmental excellence. The mill was the first paper mill in the world to achieve the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Challenge for industry, which requires improving energy intensity by 10 percent in less than five years. Palatka improved by 12 percent between 2016 and 2018.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific operates more than 150 facilities and employs more than 30,000 people. The Palatka mill employs approximately 1,000, with an annual payroll and benefits of more than $70 million.