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SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Recycling has not only an environmental benefit but an economic benefit for Essity, which has undertaken a $3.6 million capital project to be able to use more paper waste in producing its tissues, napkins and other goods.

Essity site manager Steve Duell said that, in the past, the company obtained most of its paper from industrial printing shops. Now, Essity is getting more paper through residential curbside recycling.

The problem is that a lot of trash pickup companies do single-stream recycling, where plastic, cardboard, aluminum and paper are put in one bin that has to be sorted. Essity does not have equipment to sort paper from the other contaminants.

“We currently didn’t have the capacity to handle much of it,” Duell said.

But Essity is building a two-story addition to accommodate a new compactor, and screens to filter out contaminants. The work also includes a new conveyor belt, pulper pump and motor, new water pumps and other equipment.

The project began in May, with construction on the building started in July. It is expected to be completed by October

Terry Miller, operations manager for Essity, explained that water is added to the paper waste to create a slurry. Then it goes through a series of smaller screens to filter out any contaminants.

Anything that is not a fiber-based product is removed, including stickers, envelopes that have adhesive tape and other products in a process that takes about 20 minutes.

“It’s going to increase capacity to run this lower-grade fiber,” he said.

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The plant processes 250 to 300 tons of paper per day, about 100,000 tons annually. Only about 20 tons is now made from residential waste recycling.

More of the paper will be used to make “craft paper,” the brown-colored paper used in public bathrooms, Duell said.

He did not think any staff will be added because of the new equipment. The company employs about 350 people at its South Glens Falls, Greenwich and Saratoga Springs plants.

“This is more strategically driven to utilize this paper to reduce our cost structure,” he said.

Essity has a number of open positions now at different levels, including engineers and operators, he said.

Essity is using all local contractors on the project, according to Miller. Rozell Industries is the general contractor. They also are using K&J Electric and HJH Engineering. Andritz is providing equipment.

Amy Bellcourt, vice president of communications, said Essity is working with local recyclers on how to collect more of this paper. Now, residents have another incentive to make sure they are recycling.

“It’s employing people in my community. It’s contributing to the tax base in my community,” she said.

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Michael Goot covers politics, business, Glens Falls and Lake George. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog at http://poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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