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Recycled Paper Barging and its importance to Washington State Mills are the focus of the recently release Whitepaper.

Monday, September 14, 2020 | News Release


Washington Maritime Blue investigates circular economy opportunities for the Recycled Paper Industry and Acceleration of Innovation in Maritime Decarbonization.

Recycled Paper Barging and its importance to Washington State Mills are the focus of the recently release Whitepaper.


Joshua Berger, Washington Maritime Blue

Geoff Lawrence, Impact Washington

Jennifer States, DNV GL

Washington Maritime Blue, in collaboration with Impact Washington and DNV GL, announces the release of a report ('Recycled Paper Barging to Washington State Mills') examining barging options for supplying wastepaper feedstocks to Washington State recycled containerboard mills. An associated study by DNV GL ('Zero Emissions Barge Feasibility Study') explores opportunities to accelerate decarbonization through batteries for short sea shipping.

Even though Washington state's pulp and paper industry has shrunk considerably over the past two decades, several of the state's mills are now making significant new investments in plant and equipment to convert recycled paper into containerboard.  The end-use market for recycled containerboard- unlike the declining demand for printing and writing papers- is growing.   This containerboard market growth is at least partly the result of increased online shopping and to-your-porch deliveries - a phenomenon some have labeled the 'Amazon Effect.'

Currently, most of the recycled paper feedstock for these mills is provided by over-the-road trucking.  The Washington mills' need for growing volumes of recycled paper, as well as their needs for the outbound shipment of paper products seem likely to exacerbate road congestion problems and truck shipment delays leading to still higher shipping costs. Barging could theoretically reduce recycled paper transportation costs and costs of shipping paper from the mills to the containerboard customers.

In addition to the potential to reduce traffic congestion and transportation costs with barging (versus trucking), significant opportunities for carbon emissions reduction could be achieved.  The 'Zero Emissions Barge Feasibility Study' explores the potential of battery barge operations as part of the overall report.  The longer routes appear to warrant further study for alternative fuels and hybrid models. While this battery barge study concludes that current battery technology is inadequate for long ocean voyages to and from these mills (e.g., to and from Washington State and Southern California), shorter routes within the Salish Sea warrant detailed engineering for battery electric operations.

“ ‘Recycled Paper Barging to Washington State Mills’ contributed to our understanding of the opportunity to innovate and adapt to a circular economy framework,” says Joshua Berger, Founder & Board Chair Maritime Blue and Governor's Maritime Sector Lead Washington State Department of Commerce. We have gained an understanding of what is possible. We want to continue to build our knowledge and gain a broader point of view with more input from collaborators at a regional level. Additional information will establish necessary technologies, identify the significant levers available, and call out the economic opportunity."

Roy Nott, a former pulp and paper industry executive who assisted Impact Washington with the mill study, said, "It is gratifying to see our Washington mills make the new investments required to consume recycled paper and produce medium and liner papers.  Barging would probably enhance the long-term economic viability of these mills.  I am especially happy because these new investments should help the rural communities' economies, with relatively high unemployment, where most of these mills reside."

You can download the full Whitepaper on the Impact Washington or Washington Maritime Blue website.  To participate in future studies, please reach out to Washington Maritime Blue -


Washington Maritime Blue

Washington Maritime Blue is a non-profit strategic alliance formed to foster maritime innovation and sustainability in support of an inclusive blue economy. It is a partnership between industry, public sector, research & training institutions, and community organizations. Maritime Blue works to create a world-class, thriving, equitable, and sustainable maritime industry through knowledge sharing, joint innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialization, business, and workforce development. Its mission is to implement Washington State's Strategy for the Blue Economy delivered by Governor Jay Inslee's Maritime Innovation Advisory Council.

Impact Washington

Impact Washington is a non-profit organization that provides competitive, value-driven services. With access to public and private resources, our goal is to enhance growth, improve productivity, reduce costs, and expand manufacturing capacity in Washington. Our solutions, consulting, and educational opportunities focus on the small and medium-sized manufacturers located throughout the state. We are an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Program (NIST MEP). Our nationwide network consists of manufacturing extension partnership centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Since 1997 Impact Washington has delivered improvement solutions to more than 1,500 Washington State manufacturers.



DNV GL is an independent expert in risk management and quality assurance, operating in more than 100 countries. Through its broad experience and deep expertise, DNV GL advances safety and sustainable performance, sets industry benchmarks, and inspires and invents solutions. We provide classification, technical assurance, software, and independent expert advisory services to the maritime, oil & gas, and energy industries. We also provide certification and supply chain services to customers across a wide range of industries. Whether assessing a new ship design, optimizing a wind farm's performance, analyzing sensor data from a gas pipeline, or certifying a food company's supply chain, DNV GL enables its customers and stakeholders to make critical decisions with confidence.


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