Eucalyptus Biomass: clean energy in paper production

Bianca_Bricio ip

One of the concerns at International Paper is reducing environmental impacts, which is why the company is constantly working to improve industrial processes, with a focus on sustainability and on the rational use of resources to manufacture pulp and paper. Among the company’s countless initiatives is the use of eucalyptus biomass to generate energy for some of its units. Bianca Brício, a Sustainability Coordinator at IP, explains a little more about this process and about day-to-day applications for eucalyptus.

A chemical engineer, Bianca has been with International Paper since 2010. As a trainee, she worked in the Forestry areas and at the corporate office in São Paulo before moving to the Mogi Guaçu unit, where she currently works. In this interview, she provides some details on the step-by-step of generating energy from biomass and also talks about what is done with the eucalyptus “scraps,” which are reused to plant new seedlings.

What is the process for using eucalyptus biomass for energy generation?

Eucalyptus biomass has been used as a fuel source for pulp and paper factories in Brazil at various units. Recently, this process migrated to using bark and wood waste and began to burn whole trunks.  Burning of biomass creates energy used to heat water, which moves through pipes inside of the boiler. The hot water creates steam, which is used to power turbines, producing electricity. The conditions for burning biomass, as well as the temperature and steam pressure, are controlled for maximum efficiency. The gasses resulting from burning also go through environmental control equipment to minimize any impacts on the environment.

Is the energy generated by eucalyptus biomass capable of making the industry self-sufficient? How much of this energy is accounted for by industrial consumption?

In the case of IP units, renewable energy sources are responsible for approximately half of the energy used.

Do all IP, Paper and Packaging units used biomass?

Actually, the units that use energy from eucalyptus biomass are Luiz Antônio, Mogi Guaçu and Nova Campina, since they use wood as an input in pulp production. At units where we don’t have this integrated process, that is, that do not produce pulp, energy comes from other sources.

What advantages does the industry have with the use of eucalyptus biomass, from an environmental standpoint?

Eucalyptus has enormous potential to be used to generate energy, since it is a renewable fuel source and it grows very quickly in tropical regions like Brazil, where it is harvested after an average of 7 years. IP has approximately 72,000 hectares of certified eucalyptus plantations. It is worth underscoring that International Paper’s planted forest areas are certified with the FSC/PEFC and Cerflor seals.  In addition to growing eucalyptus, IP maintains 26 hectares for conservation of biodiversity and preservation of native forests.

In addition to the competitive advantages of eucalyptus, from a forestry standpoint, using biomass as an energy source means our factories do not consume fossil fuels. This replacement makes the energy mix cleaner and reduces Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Is the biomass produced by IP just used at the company, or is it sold? And what about the electricity produced? Does the industry absorb it or is it sold to power concessionaires?

Biomass produced by IP is only used by IP, as is electricity. IP also purchases some electricity from the national grid.

Can you tell us what is used from the eucalyptus plant? What does it create, in addition to wood, paper, pulp and energy? Is there any other by-product you would like to mention?

There are countless possibilities in the use of eucalyptus, but in addition to the raw material for producing pulp and the biomass that creates energy, the most common products are pallets, charcoal, boxes for packaging of products, furniture and floors, such as wood flooring and laminates.

In the field, sticks and leaves from harvested eucalyptus remain on the ground to protect it. At IP factories, parts of the eucalyptus that cannot be used to make wood or generate energy, such as bark with lots of embedded dirt or sand, are used to make organic compost, which is used to fertilize forest trees.



Formare Chat joins philosophy and pop culture to talk about choices


The famous Greek aphorism attributed to Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, “Know thyself,” served as the basis for a chat between Newton Scavone, IP Security Manager, and Formare School Project students at the Luiz Antônio unit on August 28. Scavone did more than take a new look at a classic phrase, showing how it is applicable today and can be a life lesson, since self-awareness is something humans are constantly searching for and this awareness is essential to maturing. “We can only outline a personal plan to improve when we know ourselves and want better,” he said at the meeting.

At 63, Scavone took the adolescents through his lifetime of experiences, recalling his career path and his start at the company nearly 35 years ago. As an active participant in  Formare activities since the Project began at Luiz Antonio, the Security Manager spoke about his personal values and advised the students on making good choices in the future.  “Good choices happen when sown, and they must be reaped in any situation,” he said.

Losses and gains – Scavone had to deal with loss from a young age. At eight years old, his father died, leaving him and his two brothers, who were 9 and six months old at the time, to look elsewhere for references throughout their lives. He took charge of showing them ways, through great effort, dedication and awareness that fulfilling his duties generates results and opens doors. “I’ve always had people with consolidated careers who inspired me to follow my own ideas. I believe in following examples. ”

And it was through these references and a search for constant betterment that many opportunities arose, which can also happen for Formare students when they use all of their potential in their chosen careers.  “They need to want it and to get excited for things to happen; the big question is not what they have now in Formare, but what they will do with all of this learning in the future and this is something that I talk about a lot with the student I tutor as well,” he says.

From philosophy to pop culture – In addition to his reference to Socrates during the chat, Scavone connected the past to the present by touching on American TV show Glee, where deaf students, along with the cast of the show, sing John Lennon’s Imagine, mixing voice and sign language. He used this resource to show that from Ancient Greece to the classic hit from the 1970s, reinterpreted in the 2000s, there are lessons and teachings that cross generations. “The students are moved; one of them came to me at the end saying that he wanted to change the way he is and this was the most beautiful and gratifying encouragement I’ve ever had,” said the professional, who told the young man to follow his intuition, something that “always brings us great lessons.”

Biennale is the stage for a meeting between Formare students


A meeting between Formare IP students at the Mogi Guaçu and Luiz Antônio units is already part of the calendar of activities at International Paper Institute. This year, the company provided a chance for students to exchange knowledge as well as fun and culture, with a visit to the International Book Biennale, in São Paulo.

As one of the event’s sponsors, IP was able to bring students to São Paulo and provide a unique and fun moment in an inspiring space that values an exchange of ideas. After all, who doesn’t like a good recommendation for reading?

On the literature route – students left the Luiz Antônio and Mogi Guaçu units and had a first stop in the city of Limeira, where they met for breakfast before continuing their trip in a single bus, where they took part in some group dynamics that encouraged exchange of learning experiences.

A book and a challenge – the trip to the Book Biennale was overseen by the IP CSR and Sustainability team and by Elídio Frias, a Marketing Executive from Solenis, a partner in the Institute’s initiatives. The executive talked with students about careers and their futures and gave them a book and a challenge: to finish reading it by the end of the year. A goal that may be easy for some students, while for others it is just the start of building a new habit: travelling through the pages of a book.




Innovations turn trash into energy


A more sustainable life requires a new look at everything that human beings produce, including garbage. To give you an idea, 29% more trash was generated in Brazil from 2003 to 2014, while population growth during this period was just 6%, according to a study by the Brazilian Association of Public Sanitation and Special Waste Companies (Abrelpe), released in 2015.


Faced with a situation like this, rethinking day-to-day practices to minimize waste is beyond urgent, in addition to correctly disposing of waste. And that is where innovation comes into play, turning “trash” into electricity, a luxury for the nearly 1.5 billion people who live without electrical power, according to data from the UN (United Nations).

With an eye towards sustainable development, some industries are already investing in producing electricity from alternatives sources. Take a look:


shutterstock_285916715 Converting food waste into cooking gas – this is the proposal of HomeBiogas, an Israeli company that created a system to convert organic food waste into cooking gas. The waste in this process becomes liquid compost for the garden. And the gas produced from discarded food is enough to keep an oven on for three hours.


shutterstock_156256430 Landfill rash generates electricity – in September of this year, the city of Caieiras (SP) opened the largest methane-based thermoelectric power plant in Brazil, using methane gas from the Termoverde Caieiras landfill. Power generated from the trash is enough to supply a city of around 300,000, such as Limeira, Guarujá or Taubaté. In 2014, the Guatapará landfill was the first in the
state to generate electricity from trash for 20 cities.


At International Paper wood scraps from industrial processes (wood chips) also generates energy for units, which means significant savings for IP as well as gains in sustainability based on the use of a renewable energy source: eucalyptus biomass.




“World Car Free Day” asks us to take a new look at life in the city


On September 22, cities around the world are joining together for “World Car Free Day,” an initiative aimed at getting people to think about pollutant gas emissions in the atmosphere caused by automobiles. The day is aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues such as the greenhouse effect, while also mobilizing people to use more collective transport day-to-day, alternative means like bikes and car pooling in order to contribute to better air quality.

“World Car Free Day” originally began in France, in 1997, and spread across the world with various actions in cities which lower the speed limit on some roads or even prohibit vehicle traffic in some areas on this date so that people use other means of transport. What most matters is that the population thinks about excessive automobile use and how other possibilities for moving around in cities are ruled out.

Actions on September 22 are part of a movement called “Mobility Week,” adopted by various countries to propose alternatives to improve urban transport while also looking at issues such as improving quality of life and calling attention to more sustainable and efficient ways of getting around.

“Mobility Week” initiatives, along with the “World Car Free Day,” include walks, bike rides and intermodal challenges, aimed at showing that the city can be experienced in other ways and that even though cars are important for transportation, they are not essential for live in a major urban city.

See some of the initiatives for more sustainable mobility organized in some Brazilian cities below.

– Manaus

During Mobility Week, the “Pedala Manaus” NGO organizes a series of activities to encourage the city’s residents to ride their bikes, such as bike rides and an intermodal challenge, where participants have to complete a certain route using different modes of transportation, seeing at the end which is most efficient.

– Maceió

On September 23 (Friday), there is a “For Safer Traffic” race, and on Sunday (September 25), there is a bike ride, with an expected 7,000 participants.

– São Paulo

In addition to the Intermodal Challenge that took place on September 17, there are also nighttime walks and debates on urban mobility during the “Mobility Festival.”

– Porto Alegre

On “World Car Free Day,” the capital of Rio Grande do Sul is promoting its second Urban Mobility Seminar – Porto Alegre for People.