One day, a Cascader and some of our partners came up with an idea—a vision in which waste comes first. Since that time, their vision has become a concrete, innovative, environment-friendly project, and one of Cascades’s plants has begun using a landfill as its primary energy source.
Did you know that Quebec produces more waste per capita than anywhere else in the world? Quebecers produce twice as much waste as the Japanese, 60% more than the French and 15% more than our American neighbours.  Surprised?
Each year, millions of products end up in landfills and have a direct impact on the environment. As the waste decomposes, biogases are produced. One such biogas, methane, causes damage to the ozone layer when released into the atmosphere.
But since methane is also an energy-packed fuel, it can be harnessed and used as a source of energy. The gases that result from the burning of methane (including steam) are 21 times less damaging to the atmosphere than unburned methane.
Given that Cascades has been involved in recycling since its beginnings in 1964, our interest in using biogas was only natural. We are already in the business of tapping into the “urban forest” (recovery bins) to make most of our paper products, so why not use landfill waste to power our machines too?
Biogas: a green energy
Cascades Fine Papers Group uses it since 2004. Today, biogas meets 93% of our Rolland plant’s (St-Jerome, Quebec) thermal energy needs. The fuel comes from the Ste-Sophie landfill site, which is managed by a company called Waste Management. Before it can be released into the atmosphere, the gas is captured on-site.
Next, Gaz Métro safely compresses it and transports it to the Rolland plant through a 13-kilometre pipeline. Finally, the biogas is used in place of traditional fossil fuels to make paper.
What’s the end result?
Each year, methane utilization at the Rolland Cascades plant reduces atmospheric emissions by about 70,000 tonnes. That’s the equivalent of 23,400 fewer compact cars  on the road! Our sustainable project makes use of widely available local resources that would otherwise be lost.
As a result, people can print on paper produced with a very small environmental impact without having to purchase environmental credits. As shown in our life cycle analysis, renewable energy brings the environmental footprint of Rolland Enviro100TM and Rolland Opaque50TM below the North American industry average for virgin and 100% recycled paper.
How much do you know about biogas? What other forms of green energy or eco-innovations should be developed?