Green Bay, Wisconsin based Green Bay Packaging (GBP) announced that its mill achieved Net-Zero Water in its production of 100 percent recycled containerboard paper, the first-ever UL with validation of this environmental claim.

“Environmental sustainability has always been at the core of Green Bay Packaging’s values,” said GBP President and CEO, William Kress. “Our goal is to operate the most environmentally friendly mill system in the U.S., with water quality in our communities a primary focus.” 

The Net-Zero Water system at the Green Bay mill reduces water demand through use of reclaimed water and alternative water sources, offsetting the need for freshwater consumption. The goal in achieving “net-zero water” is to transform a water-intense process into a more efficient process, returning more water to the water source than has been removed.

“Green Bay Packaging has been a strong stakeholder in developing a rigorous procedure for assessing site water balance,” said William Hoffman, research scientist in UL’s Retail and Consumer Products group. “By achieving Net-Zero Water Use based on the UL Environmental Claim Validation Procedure, Green Bay Packaging has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability and preserving water resources for future use.” 

UL, the global safety leader, established the first industrial global standard of its kind with the UL 1397, Environment Validation Claim Procedure for Net-Zero Water, published January 27, 2022. Green Bay Packaging’s implemented water-use strategy to minimize the impact of water use on the watershed and increase water resiliency, parallels the net-zero concept. 

“The net-zero water system is an investment in water technology that benefits community water resources while providing sustainable product innovation for our packaging customers and consumers,” said Green Bay Packaging’s Director of Environment and Sustainability, Lisa Bauer-Lotto. “Establishing a reclaimed water loop with the local municipal wastewater utility is an integral circular economy innovation into our papermaking process.” 

The US EPA considers circularity of net-zero water a green infrastructure with significant potential. Green Bay Packaging took the first steps in water consumption conservation in 1963 and became a pioneer in ‘closing-the-loop’. This led to a fully closed water system as a semi-chemical pulping mill in 1972. The closed-loop water system was rebuilt when the mill converted to a 100 percent recycled paper production in 1992. The Green Bay Packaging legacy of water stewardship continues with the new Green Bay mill that began production in 2021 with its first-of-a-kind, circular reclaim water systems that reduce the amount of water use per ton of paper production and fosters a net-zero water system.