The paper industry produces nearly 80 million tons of paper and paperboard annually, while wood products are used in a variety of residential and commercial applications. The broader forest products industry produces a large number of diverse products including copy paper and newsprint, tissues and paper towels, food packaging, and plywood and lumber.

How Do We Decarbonize Forest Products Manufacturing?

The U.S. forest products industry uses a variety of industrial heating processes, including wood cooking, bleaching, liquor evaporation, pulp preparation, and paper drying to turn wood and recycled paper into everything from cardboard to envelopes to building frames. The industry tends to have a lower emission footprint than its energy use might suggest, consuming 15% of the energy of the U.S. manufacturing sector yet only emitting 8% of energy-related greenhouse gases. This is because over half of energy demand is met by using carbon-neutral bio-based materials which would otherwise be discarded, such as bark, sawdust, and black liquor.

There are many opportunities to reduce net energy greenhouse gas emissions in the forest product industry, including crosscutting technologies such as expansion of biofuel use, electrification, carbon capture, and efficiency improvements. There are also sector-specific opportunities for greenhouse gas reduction that involve technology innovations in the following areas:  

  • Transformative paper/wood drying and energy recovery technologies
  • Innovative pulping, paper-forming, and de-watering technologies
  • Novel pulping chemistries
  • Advanced separations.

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