Graphic Packaging has reduced average hydrogen sulfide (H2S) readings at its Kalamazoo mill to 1 part per billion (ppb), according to Envirosuite monitoring data from the first half of 2023. These are readings from on-site monitors, before any H2S reaches the property line or the community, where the concentrations of H2S would be even lower.
H2S – which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate as a hazardous air pollutant – can develop as a byproduct of natural changes in various organic materials, from rivers and other low-lying bodies of water, landfills, wastewater treatment plants, sewer pipes and numerous other sources. Because paper mills process organic materials (pulp), H2S can form as a natural byproduct of the paper recycling and manufacturing process. For that reason, Graphic Packaging has partnered with experts in mill wastewater treatment processes and invested in odor and H2S mitigation technologies. Further, we have been working closely with the City of Kalamazoo, which has also been working to reduce H2S from forming from its operations at its adjacent Kalamazoo Water Reclamation Plant (KWRP).
The new data from Graphic Packaging’s publicly available, on-site, real-time electronic monitors, and verified by an independent third party, show an 81% reduction in H2S readings in the past two years. That reduction is the result of significant investments Graphic Packaging has made to prevent H2S from forming during its operations. Although the levels we have measured over this period have been more than 6 times below Michigan’s permitted H2S levels and below the EPA’s reference level for continuous exposure to H2S over an entire lifetime (1.4 ppb), Graphic Packaging has and will continue to make further improvements. By the end of 2023, the company will have invested more than $8 million in health and safety improvements at the mill, based on guidance from third-party experts who specialize in paper mill operations and odors. These steps include:
- Implementing state-of-the-art H2S and odor mitigation techniques including optimizing chemical processes in the mill’s wastewater
- Initiating a plan to install both a permanent oxygenation system and scrubbing system to further reduce H2S
- Actively participating in the City of Kalamazoo’s Odor Task Force since 2019 and supporting the City’s creation of an Odor Hotline
- Developing and implementing an Odor Action Plan
- Installing 16 Envirosuite monitors around the Kalamazoo mill and providing the public with live online access to monitoring data
- Continuing to evaluate emerging technologies to support further reduction in H2S formation
Graphic Packaging remains committed to improving air quality and reducing odors in the community where we live and work. That is why we have taken – and are continuing to take – significant steps to ensure that we are part of the solution to air quality and odor issues.