Meeting eyes shrinking of Boise plant's 'footprint'

A project to improve the local plant's effects on the area is under way.

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COLLEGE PLACE -- A project to measure the "footprint" of one of the county's major industries will be the subject of a meeting Monday

The state Department of Ecology will host the discussion on participation by Boise Inc. in the "Industrial Footprint Project" which seeks to find out how the Wallula facility can improve its impact on the environment, the economy and the surrounding communities.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at Walla Walla University's Kellogg Hall, 32 S.E. Ash Ave.

Funded by an Environmental Protection Agency grant, the project began in 2006 and involves the Boise plant along with four other paper and pulp mills in Washington state. At Monday's meeting, Ecology and company officials will show draft footprint scores for the Wallula plant and take suggestions on the footprint measurement tool.

"One goal of the project is to measure improvements, reductions and unintended tradeoffs of business practices," Laurie Davies, program manager for Ecology's Waste 2 Resources Program. "In doing this, we hope to help companies achieve greater levels of sustainability."

In a release, Davies said that along with regulated pollutants, each company looks at many unregulated effects of their business practices, such as energy use and the percent of reused or recycled materials in an end product.

The footprint can be used to help show companies where they can save energy, water, materials and money, Davies said. Over the past year participating companies have been developing baseline footprints which will help to measure how much the new practices are helping.

"Boise Paper prides itself on being a responsible neighbor," said Eric Steffensen, environmental manager at the Wallula mill. "Innovative ideas, like this partnership with the Department of Ecology, can help us build on our strong record of environmental and social sustainability."

According to the Port of Walla Walla, Boise Inc. is the county's eighth-largest employer with 590 full-time workers.

Other companies taking part in the project are Grays Harbor Paper, Simpson Tacoma Kraft, Nippon Paper Industries USA in Port Angeles and Port Townsend Paper Corp.

Department of Ecology Industrial Footprint Project

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