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Greening a New Product in an Old Line Business

Case Study Project Description

Port Townsend is a smaller paper mill that was in the process of converting to completely recycled feedstock (in order to remain competitive), to make Kraft Paper and other value added products in. Their goal was to find higher value applications for the paper they made to get out of the commodity business and to become much more environmentally responsible. They were looking for ways to find new product opportunities that would position them as the first mill to use 100% recycled content material for paper.

Project Problem

The biggest challenge was to find product applications that had secure market niches, little competition and large volume potential since paper mills make product by the ton. We suggested going to technology sources like Battelle National Labs and developing some industry discussions with potential strategic partners who could participate with Port Townsend in developing new products.

Solution

Battelle Labs has a mandate from the US Department of Energy to focus on what the pulp and paper industry should become in the future. They take two approaches to help companies like Port Townsend Paper:

Discover what products are possible given the state of certain technology and processes that they have identified in their research

Present market-driven ideas for products that they have determined will solve a problem or be in demand in the future.

In return, they want to be able to share the market information that we and Port Townsend Paper brought to the process with other clients and other Battelle research areas. Their goal was to create new products that solve current problems affecting many environmental, economic and social issues.

Battelle arranged a meeting with nine different scientists at the lab. We generated nine different product opportunities, all of which would require research funding from Port Townsend for work to be done. Many of the options were for agricultural markets. Port Townsend decided to do some research on potential market opportunities for such products before they funded any technical research

We put Port Townsend Paper in touch with another client, Global Warming Research & Development Corp. (GWR&D) to see if Kraft Paper could be used as a soil builder and moisture retention system for planting trees in the desert. Another meeting with Battelle was scheduled which included GWR&D to discuss the theory and get more information on desertification problems. The results of the meeting proved that the paper would be a good application for this use.

Results

We explored the competitive market for molded pulp packaging. We found the non-toxic adhesive products they can license for developing a new paper masking product for selling through Home Depot. Port Townsend signed an agreement with GWR&D to supply paper for their test trials of their watering technology for use in solving desertification problems. We helped them do trials on gift wrapping and molded pulp packaging. Eventually they were able to produce packaging, high end shopping bags and recycled-kraft paper and today are an environmentally sophisticated paper producer reclaiming millions of tons of paper from the waste stream.