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March 26, 1996

Contact: John P. Ximenes

Pulp and Paper Industry Documents Environmental Progress at International Conference

(ORLANDO, FL) -- With proponents pushing for implementation of Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF) bleaching processes in papermaking, the 1996 International Non-Chlorine Bleaching Conference (INCB) promises to add more fuel to the fire of debate surrounding alternative processes and their environmental and economic impact. At the heart of the controversy is the fact that scientific studies show no additional environmental advantage for TCF compared to the performance of Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) bleaching, based on chlorine dioxide.

As industry experts from around the world gather in Orlando for the conference, March 24 - 28, 1996, one industry expert was quick to point out that there is a frequently overlooked economic impact involved in a conversion to TCF processes.

"The pulp and paper industry is one of the bright economic lights of the southeast," said Mr. Douglas C. Pryke, Executive Director of the Alliance for Environmental Technology (AET). "Increased operating costs for TCF pulp are unnecessary and potentially damaging. Why risk the competitiveness of the southeast pulp and paper industry for no additional environmental benefit?" The US paper and allied products industry currently employs more than 107,000 people in the southeast. In Florida alone, it employs more than 14,000 people.

Mr. Pryke pointed out that new science, a strong environmental track record, and growing market demand have assured ECF its place as the industry standard. By the end of 1996, ECF production will account for almost 50 percent of the world bleached chemical pulp market. In the US alone, ECF production has increased by more than 2000 percent since 1990 and currently holds almost 40 percent of the market.

Studies indicate that ECF processes offer a higher pulp yield, thereby decreasing the strain on our precious forest resources and Mr. Pryke was quick to acknowledge the additional environmental benefits contributing to ECF's market growth. "With the substitution of chlorine dioxide for chlorine, the pulp and paper industry has virtually eliminated dioxin from its mill waste water."

"The proof is in the progress," he added, referring to an analysis of the EPA's 1994 National Listing of Fish Consumption Advisories. The analysis shows that since 1990, 13 states have lifted a total of 17 fish consumption dioxin advisories from waterbodies downstream of US pulp mills.

Founded four years ago, the INCB was designed to provide a technical and scientific forum for industry experts to meet face-to-face to discuss technical and regulatory information surrounding non-chlorine bleaching processes used in pulp and paper manufacture.

"Four years ago, this conference was of great interest to everybody - regulatory and technical bodies alike," he said. "Today, non-chlorine is a non-issue."

"With that issue behind us, now is the time to continue our environmental commitment and re-focus our attention toward development of the 'closed-loop' mill - an ECF mill that recycles its waste water," Mr. Pryke said.

AET is an international association of forest products companies and chemical manufacturers dedicated to improving the environmental performance of the pulp and paper industry. For more information on chlorine dioxide and its use in ECF bleaching, contact AET.