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Why be energy efficient?

A bulldozer moves wood chips ready for processing. Photo by

A bulldozer moves wood chips ready for processing. Photo by

There is a strong business case for investing in energy efficiency in the pulp and paper sector.1 Energy constitutes as much as 15% of total operating costs2, so energy efficiency reductions can make a significant difference to the bottom line. Investing in energy efficiency can also yield benefits from reduced water and associated chemical use, improving energy and water security for the plant and building goodwill in the regional communities in which companies operate.


Since 1990, energy intensity in this sector has improved from around 23 GJ/tonne to 17 GJ/tonne of paper products manufactured.3 Nevertheless, additional energy efficiency opportunities exist within the core processes of papermaking.

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Paper and pulp mill energy efficiency can be further improved by plant wide opportunities, such as ensuring there are effective shut down procedures to reduce unnecessary energy overheads when production is stopped.

Case studies

  • Visy Pulp and Paper Mill Tumut 2001

    Tumut Paper and Pulp Mill generates around 70% of its own power by using non fossil fuel sources. In addition, 100% of the mill’s steam requirements are met by onsite energy generation. Visy will install an additional recovery boiler that will utilise black liquor from the process as its primary fuel and a gas fired power boiler to ensure 60% of the expanded mill’s power requirements will be generated on site.

  • Pulp and Paper Industry Energy Bandwidth Study 2006 (Opens in a new window)
    • American Institute of Chemical Engineers
    • PDF 1.4 MB

    This study developed for the U.S Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program analyses how much energy could be saved if more efficient types of pulp and paper manufacturing technologies and best practices were employed. Bandwidth analysis seeks to quantify the differences between current energy consumption levels, state of the art energy use and practical and theoretical minimums at a process level.

  • Amcor Fibre Packaging Plant Scoresby 2009 (Opens in a new window)

    Amcor invested in its steam system by improving combustion controls, modulating burners, and adding a variable speed air supply as well as a flash steam heat recovery system. This provided a simple payback period of 3.8 years, saving 6% of total site gas use.

Key resources

  • Industrial Efficiency Technology Database 2012
    • Institute for Industrial Productivity

    The Industrial Efficiency Technology Database (IETD) provides information to help decision-makers in industry assess the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency investment options. The information includes descriptions of technologies and processes, key data, benchmarks, energy savings, CO2 reductions and costs. The IETD currently covers the cement, iron, steel and pulp and paper sectors, as well as electrical motor-driven systems.

  • Available and Emerging Technologies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Pulp and Paper Manufacturing Industry 2010 (Opens in a new window)

    This report from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency provides an overview of control techniques and measures that are available to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in the pulp and paper manufacturing sector. It includes a summary of key opportunities within key technologies in the various stages of the manufacturing process.

  • Energy Efficiency Improvement and Cost Saving Opportunities for the Pulp and Paper Industry 2009 (Opens in a new window)
    • Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    • PDF 2.3 MB

    This guide developed by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in the U.S discusses energy efficiency practices and energy-efficient technologies that can be implemented at the component, process, facility, and organizational levels of pulp and paper companies. Many measure descriptions include expected savings in energy and energy-related costs, which are based on case study data from real-world applications. Typical payback periods and references to further information in the technical literature are also provided, where available.

  • Significant Opportunities Register - Paper, Pulp and Wood Product Manufacturing

    This register records significant opportunities which have been identified by paper, pulp and wood product manufacturers registered with the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) program. Companies involved in the program must publically report every year on the number of cost effective opportunities they have identified with a four year payback or less. This reporting includes providing descriptions of three significant opportunities which have been identified as part of their energy efficiency assessments.

  • Pulp and Paper Manufacturing Resource Productivity 2010 (Opens in a new window)
    • Ernst von Weizsaecker and The Natural Edge Project
    • PDF 1.1 MB

    This study module outlines strategies for reducing energy and water consumption in the pulp and paper industry.

Footnotes ~ Show 3 footnotes

  1. Kramer, K., et al. (2009) Energy Efficiency Improvement and Cost Saving Opportunities for the Pulp and Paper Industry (Report No. LBNL-2268E), Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA (Opens in a new window) PDF 2.3 MB
  2. Simpson, R (2004) How does Amcor Botany Mill continue to achieve Energy Savings? (Opens in a new window) PDF 124 MB
  3. Australian Plantation, Timber Products and Paper Council. Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency – Submission to Issues Paper.