Alabama Tissue Site Uses Waste to Help Farmers Grow Crops

Alabama Tissue Site Uses Waste to Help Farmers Grow Crops

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.@Essity_USAlabama Tissue site making papermaking residuals available to improve the health of soil #farming

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Thursday, December 22, 2016 - 9:15am

CAMPAIGN: The Circular Economy

CONTENT: Article

How can a paper mill help farmers to maintain healthy soil? By making papermaking residuals available to improve the health of soil.

SCA in Barton, Alabama, has started to provide a soil improver made from its residual solids. Nearby farmers have begun using the substance to improve the soil quality for growing crops. It’s a win-win: farmers improve their crops and SCA sends less solids to landfill.

All paper mills that use recycled fiber have to manage the residuals that come from the production process. These residuals can sometimes be used in beneficial applications, like daily cover for landfills, or in the worst case they are disposed of in landfills.

The SCA Barton mill, however, started making its solid waste residuals available as a substance that improves the soil for nearby farmers in the state of Alabama. The product is the color and consistency of coarse ash and is spread onto fields. It has the ability to increase the pH value of soil and provide a source of calcium and magnesium for plants. It also increases water retention in soil and provides organic matter.

Farmers normally purchase agricultural lime to increase the quality of the soil. SCA started donating its soil improver to local farmers to test the interest. So far, demand has far exceeded expectations.

The goal for Barton is to reduce its disposal tonnage of residuals incrementally each year with a view to a 100% reduction within five years. This in line with SCA's ambition to contribute to a circular society. 

“In the months of May and June we applied almost 100% of our residuals on area farmland,” says Andrew Chorney, Technical Services Manager at the Barton site. “Year to date we’ve applied 42% of our residual solids and have already exceeded our goal of 10% reduction of disposal tonnage this year.”

“We also have a very comprehensive management plan to ensure the product that leaves the mill will meet the farmers’ highest expectations. Our contribution to local farmers and the fact that we beneficially reuse material otherwise landfilled helps to strengthen SCA’s environmental profile, which makes us all happy.”

Other sites in North America are also planning to follow Barton’s example in the coming months.