Turning steam from our paper mill into heating for our offices

Power and Energy
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At DS Smith, our circular approach means we always see waste as a potential resource. Which is why our Lucca paper mill in Italy is capturing heat previously lost during our paper manufacturing drying process to heat all the buildings on site – replacing fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions.

We are constantly looking for new, more sustainable ways to run our operations. Our Lucca paper mill in Italy has a long history of innovating to optimise its use of raw materials, like an award-winning paper and plastic fibre reject separation plant. Now our engineers have been extending this circular approach to the energy we use on-site.

From paper comes power

At the end of the production process, paper is dried by steam. Once the paper is dried, the steam is allowed to return to its original state and become hot water again, at around 100-120 degrees Celsius. This residual heat is traditionally recovered in the power plant. However, by adding a heat exchanger before hot water is sent back to the power plant, engineers have been able to capture this energy and reuse it to heat our offices. This cuts our Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) consumption by 32,000* litres per year and saves 50 tonnes of CO2 per annum. That’s equivalent to the average annual emissions of six households.

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''We are continuously looking for ways to make our mills more energy-efficient. The innovations at our Lucca mill mean we are cutting our annual LPG usage by 32,000 litres per annum and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.'' - Fabrizio Sodini – Power Plant Manager

The energy to supply over 100 million homes

All the power used for paper manufacturing at our Lucca mill is generated efficiently on site. Surplus energy is then sold back to Italy’s national electricity grid. Currently the power plant returns approximately 480 gigawatts of energy to the grid each year – that’s the same amount of power generated by 197,000 wind turbines, or enough electricity to supply over 100 million homes.

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We are continuing to tackle climate change

Figures produced by the International Energy Council show approximately 80% of the world’s energy mix still comes from fossil fuels and we are constantly striving to play our part in reducing this.

Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, climate change continues to be one of the biggest global challenges we face. Papermaking is an energy intensive process but since 2015 our European paper mills have achieved a 14% reduction in emissions, relative to production. We are delighted with this achievement but we have set our sights higher and our Now and Next Sustainability Strategy promises we will cut our carbon emissions by 30% by 2030**. This will also keep us on track to meet the 80% reduction set by The Confederation of Paper Industries (CEPI) 2050 Roadmap.

''Carbon reduction continues to be an important part of our strategy and business practices. The reuse of heat in Lucca mill is an important step towards our sustainability target of reducing our CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030.''- Stefano Andreotti – Lucca Mill Project Director

*Based on 2019 consumption
** Against a 2015 baseline

Source: DS Smith