The Visy Paper facility, a paper recycling and corrugating plant located in Rockdale county is replacing its boilers with a new heat-production process. The upgraded equipment allows the plant to burn its own waste, rather than outside fuel, which is used to produce steam.

The new process will generate half of the plant’s electricity requirements, taking a significant load off of the power grid and saving the company money on utility costs.

An increase in the plant’s nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide production as a result of the new configuration was approved by the EPD’s Air Protection Branch. Despite the increase in the amount nitrogen oxide the emissions per amount of fuel burned will not increase because of strict air controls on the new boilers, according to a representative from the EPD.

Pratt Industries, the owner of the Visy Paper facility estimates that their expansion will reduce the plant’s overall carbon usage by some 60,000 tons and when the new equipment is compared to its existing boilers will reduce its greenhouse emissions by 25%. The plant will continue to operate well below both federal and state emission limits. There will also be strict oversight on the incoming fuel that is to be burned.

The expansion has a significant local economic impact as the addition of the alternative fuel gasifier will cost approximately $45 million to build and will employ 120 construction workers. After completion the expansion will create more than 70 new jobs at the plant.

Part of the expansion was funded by an industrial revenue bond issued by the Rockdale Development Authority.