Resolute and the Circular Economy

 – Resolute Forest Products, a Canadian-based timber company with a mill in Glenwood, Arkansas, says it’s moving towards a “circular economy” in order to ensure the sustainability of the world’s natural resources. In a circular economy, resources gain value as they are optimized through process improvements, waste reduction and repurposing. Innovative approaches and technology are opening up new business opportunities, while reducing products’ environmental footprints.
Resolute says it is contributing to the shift in these five vital ways:

A renewable natural resource. For starters, our primary input – wood – is itself a completely renewable resource. In Canada, the law stipulates that 100% of harvested areas must be regenerated, and the country’s forest cover has remained stable over the last two decades. The forested area in the United States has increased by 3% over the last 60 years. Regeneration of natural resources is a key component of sustainable forest management. 

A highly efficient manufacturing process. The production of wood products is a highly efficient process. Resolute harvests wood primarily for lumber, using cutting-edge technology to minimize waste, and to optimize every part of the tree. Wood chips can become pulp and paper, while bark, shavings and sawdust can be used to generate energy and other value-added products.  

A commitment to renewable energy. Maximizing the use of renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity and carbon-neutral biomass, while reducing consumption of fossil fuels, are key elements of our strategy to improve our carbon footprint. In 2019, we generated 76% of our total energy needs (61,531 GWh) from renewable sources (hydroelectricity and biomass). 

A focus on repurposing waste. Our beneficial use programs further increase the amount of waste we recycle or repurpose – for example, at some of our facilities, we compost cardboard, clean wood waste and pallets, instead of sending these materials to landfills. In addition, a significant amount of the waste produced at our manufacturing facilities is repurposed as fuel, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and supporting our production of green energy. In 2019, 77% of the waste we produced was recovered for beneficial use.    

 An extended product lifespan. Wood products are often long-lived, paper products are recyclable, and mills are recovering more fiber from used paper products thanks to technological innovations. The carbon a tree accumulates as it grows continues to be stored for the duration of the wood product’s lifespan. Lumber, as well as books, magazines and other durable paper products, store the carbon that began in the forest, and the recycling of paper avoids additional methane emissions that occur at the landfill.    

Resolute, in a statement, said the company is proud to be at the forefront of the transition to a cleaner, more competitive circular economy – and with our focus on continuous improvement, we are always seeking opportunities to do more with less. We are pleased that our efforts are being recognized. In July 2020, we received an Environment + Energy (E+E) Top Project of the Year Award for our Thunder Bay (Ontario) thermomechanical pulp biorefinery, which is focused on developing new ways to efficiently produce and commercialize innovative bioproducts derived from wood. A judge in the award program noted Resolute’s “significant investment to increase circular economy within the industry and replace petroleum-based products,” and added that “Resolute is establishing a leadership position in the trash to treasure process assessment.”

Resolute Forest Products acquired the Glenwood mill from Conifex Timber earlier this year. Southwest Arkansas Regional Intermodal Authority at the time of the announcement pledged to aid Resolute to ensure the Glenwood location is profitable for the company.

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