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Episode 113: Peek Inside an Innovative & Environmentally Responsible Paper Mill

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In this week’s episode of NothingWasted!, we chat with Lisa Berghaus from Monadnock Paper Mills. This company is a sustainable eco-system that sits in beautiful New Hampshire with a storied 200-year history. Give a listen to hear how Berghaus tells the circular system story of this innovative paper mill that works with the world’s leading brands.

We spoke with Lisa about innovations in the world of paper, sustainability as good business and more.

Here is a sneak peek into the discussion:

Waste360: Can you tell us about your company’s “green team”?

Berghaus: We’re an ISO 14001 company, which means we have a certified environmental management system. That takes into account every aspect of our business that has environmental impacts, and we commit to impact reductions. So we formed a team made of people across all functional areas of the company who contribute ideas and to improvements in areas like wastewater, energy, emissions, and hydro-efficiencies. After doing cost-benefit analysis on new ideas, we bring the best ones to the executive team — and when approved, we drive these new projects to fruition. It’s a great system and a great group of people.

Waste360: Can you share an example of how Monadnock is continually aiming to reduce its environmental impacts?

Berghaus: We actually collaborated with a competitor because they figured out a way to [better utilize] their wastewater treatment pond. Typically you’d have to have these ponds dredged every ten or so years and that material would go to landfill. But it’s a beneficially rich material that can now be put back into our treatment plant. That’s just one of our innovative waste stories here at Monadnock.

Waste360: It seems like Monadnock has found that sustainability is good for business. Do you see this for your customers as well?

Berghaus: We probably wouldn’t be in business today if we weren’t stepping up and meeting the needs of our customers. Everything we’re doing is driven by the market. We work with the biggest brands in the world, and there’s reputational and financial risk if you don’t know your suppliers and what they’re doing. With social media and the visibility and awareness of consumers, you can be in big trouble. So you have to know where your raw materials are coming from. We have customers that have specific environmental impact reduction objectives, and we work with them in order to understand how their purchasing decisions can help move the needle for them, and make the case for sustainable solutions. 

Waste360: How did Covid affect your work and the company?

Berghaus: Interestingly enough, and it doesn’t surprise me, but sustainability is now at the top of everybody’s list. The other thing is, Monadnock is a technical specialty mill, and we supplied the paper that was an integral part of the packaging for the swab test kits. So we were an essential industry during the pandemic. We’ also make sustainable signage, so as we had waves of stores and facilities across the country reopening, we printed a lot of signage related to wayfinding, social distancing, and mask wearing. For brands that want to reduce the amount of plastic in their portfolio, we can help them move to sustainable, renewable fiber papers for signage — or signage made out of 100% recycled fiber. So it’s been an interesting ride, and we’re very fortunate.

Read the transcript here.


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