The pulp and paper industry is the number one consumer of water worldwide, and the fifth largest consumer of energy.
This statistic may come as a surprise, but abundant amounts of water and energy are necessary for the production of paper throughout the entire process, in addition to countless resources removed from forests and the earth. All of this considered together, the paper industry could be deemed one of the least eco-friendly industries in the world.
Mohawk is changing that.
With headquarters in Cohoes, New York, Mohawk Fine Papers is taking steps to lessen their environmental footprint. Because of the incredible ecological impact of the paper industry, this is no small feat. Despite this, Mohawk has made incredible progress in reducing their water, energy, and forest usage.
Due to the astoundingly large water footprint of the paper industry, Mohawk has made a commitment to reducing that footprint as much as possible, while still producing quality paper. All of the water used in Mohawk’s New York and Ohio plants are clarified, then returned to the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, creating a cycle that does not waste water. In addition, Mohawk has found new ways to diminish water consumption, thereby reducing consumption by almost half the amount of water used per ton of paper made.
Mohawk’s most well-known environmental effort is the use of windpower in the papermaking process. In 2003 Mohawk became the first paper mill, and one of the first large-scale production facilities to use wind-generated electricity for manufacturing. A national leader in the use of wind power, 100% of emissions at Mohawk are equalized with certified windpower certificates, or Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from windpower projects. These RECs are equivalent to planting a 24,400 acre forest or 138 million miles not driven by cars in one year.
Continuing with their environmentally conscious efforts, Mohawk purchases paper fibers from sustainably managed forests, as designated by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). They also make a large number of papers from post-consumer waste recycled paper, and are still working to increase recycling efforts. Part of their goal is to increase the quality of recycled papers, so that they can be more easily substituted for paper made with virgin fibers, thereby lessening the number of trees cut down in order to make paper.
Mohawk is a role model for any business, especially in a paper-related industry, striving to reduce their environmental impact, and will hopefully be the standard to which this industry will be held in the future.