Air & Water Quality

Air and water are important natural resources we must use wisely.

The P. H. Glatfelter Company has an excellent record of compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Credit for this successful record goes to our employees, who are very conscious of the need to use our resources properly, to minimize pollution, and to handle and dispose of papermaking ingredients and wastes safely.

Our manufacturing processes are very complex and, while we have a very strong record of compliance, we do occasionally experience problems. When a problem develops due to electrical or mechanical failure, or because of human error, we follow the necessary reporting requirements and take timely action to resolve it. We then determine the cause of the problem and take additional steps to prevent it from happening again.

Papermaking is a very dynamic process and new technological advances are made each year. Throughout our history, we have successfully employed many of these evolving technologies at each of our mills. We are continuing this commitment today, through modernization and equipment upgrades.

Some of the changes we make are required by new or changing environmental laws. Others are made by us voluntarily, because we believe they are in the best interest of our company, the environment and the community.

Air Quality

Just about every activity generates emissions.

When you burn wood in a wood stove or charcoal on the grill, you generate air emissions. The car you drive creates air emissions. Even you create air emissions, when you exhale, perspire, and convert food into energy as does every other animal or plant.

Often, the most noticeable emissions coming from a paper mill are those that contain sulfur compounds. These compounds, which give off an unpleasant odor, result when wood is cooked and converted into pulp for papermaking. They are so odorous that you can smell them in extremely low concentrations.

Since the 1970s, the P. H. Glatfelter Company has reduced the transportable odor emissions from its Spring Grove mill by a minimum 97%. Now such odors are seldom transported beyond the immediate area of the mill. Locally, we continue to work diligently to reduce odor within close proximity to the mill.

Other paper mill emissions come from the production of steam, which is used to dry paper and to generate electricity. Steam is produced in large boilers that burn coal, gas, wood wastes, and oil as fuel. These fuels release gases similar to those that come out of a car's exhaust or wood stove -- sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulates and carbon oxides.

Although we usually do not think of these compounds as dangerous to us in the concentrations in which they are released, we must have special permits from government agencies to release them into the atmosphere.

Through the installation of new equipment and regular modernization at each of its locations, the P. H. Glatfelter Company captures about 99% of the particulates and odorous compounds and more than 50% of the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide generated by operations corporate-wide. Here are some examples of what we have accomplished:


Water is a necessary ingredient in papermaking.

At our Neenah, Wisconsin and Pisgah Forest, North Carolina mills, we obtain water from nearby rivers. At our Spring Grove, Pennsylvania mill, water comes from a creek, which is augmented by three Company-built reservoirs.

We use water in such applications as:

As water passes through our systems, it carries with it excess fiber and other wastes that are recycled through the papermaking process. The water itself is recycled many times before we send it to our wastewater treatment facilities.

At wastewater treatment, our manufacturing wastes pass through a sophisticated system that is designed to remove solid material from water and to treat organic materials biologically. A byproduct of the wastewater treatment process is a solid, clay-like material called sludge.

The sludge generated from our pulp and papermaking operations contains primarily cellulose fiber, calcium carbonate, titanium dioxide, clay and traces of other chemicals.

Today, we continue to send our sludge to Company-owned and privately-owned landfills that are required to follow strict environmental regulations.

Still, we are looking toward the future with the development of several projects designed to handle our sludge. They include: