Boise paper mill to examine its 'footprint'

By the Herald staff January 19, 2010 

WALLULA -- Boise Paper in Wallula is one of four pulp and paper mills in Washington measuring its social and environmental "footprint" to find out how to do less harm to the environment and communities while remaining a positive economic force.

The company on Highway 12 is participating in an "Industrial Footprint Project" sponsored by the Washington Department of Ecology and funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"One goal of the project is to measure improvements, reductions and unintended tradeoffs of business practices," said Laurie Davies, program manager with Ecology's Waste 2 Resources Program, in a statement released Monday.

The public is welcome to attend a 6:30 p.m. meeting Monday at Walla Walla University's Kellogg Hall, Alaska Lobby, 32 S.E. Ash Ave., in College Place where ecology and Boise representatives will show draft footprint scores for the facility and take suggestions on the footprint measurement tool.

The scoring process will look at regulated pollutants and other unregulated aspects of the company's business practices, such as energy use and the percent of reused or recycled materials in an end product.

The assessment will help companies learn where they can save energy, water, materials and money. It also will help decision-makers determine benchmark performance, assess progress toward sustainability and improve the footprint of a facility.

In addition to Boise in Wallula, other participating pulp and paper mills in Washington are at Grays Harbor Paper, Simpson Tacoma Kraft and Nippon Paper Industries USA .

Participating companies have been developing baseline footprints, which will help to measure how much the new practices are helping.

"Boise Paper prides itself on being a responsible neighbor," said Eric Steffensen, environmental manager at Boise Inc.'s Wallula mill, in a prepared statement.

Participating in the footprint study also can bring advice from technical experts in how to best reach desirable environmental goals.

And it can help determine what kind of incentives are needed to attain goals that are beyond compliance.

* On the net: More information about the project is available at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/industrial/IndFootprint.html.

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