Pratt Industries was recently recognized as a leader in recycling innovation by Paper & Packaging Board. Ed Kersey, Pratt Industries Wapakoneta Mill Manager, is interviewed as follows in their article, “Meet the Leaders of Paper Recycling Innovation:”
Historically, much of mixed waste—the technical term for glass, plastic, metal, organic matter and other kinds of refuse that hasn’t been presorted—has ended up in landfills, even though it contains recyclable material. Removing its impurities is expensive and technologically demanding. Pratt Industries wasn’t deterred by these challenges when, in October 2019, it opened a 100% recycled paper mill in Wapakoneta, Ohio.
“We use a lot of mixed waste paper,” says Ed Kersey, the mill’s general manager. (The rest of the mill’s fiber comes from OCC.) “We use all kinds of paper that a lot of other plants don’t like,” such as magazine stock and cup stock, fibrous mixtures that are made into paper pulp. “But then how do we use it? That’s the magic sauce for us.”
The Wapakoneta mill’s magic comes from its advanced stock preparation system that can take in greater quantities of mixed recycled mixed waste paper before cleaning it for reuse, and its energy-efficient paper machine minimizes raw material costs.
“We know that the fiber system is probably going to get dirty over the years,” Kersey says of the Wapakoneta mill. “So what we do is invest a lot of time, effort, money and engineering in that stock preparation system. As we see the fiber market in the world degrade, we can still keep up our production.”
All of the boxes made at Pratt’s mills, from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Valparaiso, Indiana, come from 100% recycled paper. But the Wapakoneta mill, with its newer technology, will inform the updates to the older mills, elevating them to higher sustainability standards.
“We do testing all the time,” Kersey says. “It’s not like we stop [innovating on] our technology. We have to keep thinking ahead.”