Environmental Priorities Header

Environmental Priorities

Koch’s commitment to environmental excellence is well documented but also broader than most people realize. As Dave Robertson mentioned in his introduction, all Koch companies share five environmental priorities:

Innovation involves discovering and developing new technologies for creating more value while using fewer resources, minimizing waste and improving environmental performance. Doing an even better job of improving energy efficiency will help further reduce greenhouse gases. Air quality initiatives are focused on finding new ways to reduce and improve air emissions even more. Our longtime focus on water use is reflected in the efforts by several Koch companies to further reduce water consumption and improve the quantity and quality of water discharge from plants. And by effectively managing our resources, including the land where our facilities are sited, we can create more value for Koch and our constituencies.

Partnership on Environment

Few people realize how much Koch Engineered Solutions has done to improve the world’s environment. Although the company is best known for designing and making fractionation and combustion systems, it is also a leader in CO2 and overall emissions reduction technologies.

By using mass-transfer equipment from Koch-Glitsch, customized combustion innovations from John Zink Hamworthy and purification technology from Koch Separation Solutions, process facilities of all kinds can reduce emissions. KES also provides turnkey design and construction expertise for building emission control systems of all types.

KES is well known for its capabilities in the rapidly evolving arena of next-generation fuels, which can now be made from a broad array of alternative feedstocks. Its Optimized Process Design unit can design and deliver a new fuel plant in less time (20% faster) and at a lower overall cost (10% less) than competitors. KES has also earned a great reputation for water filtration products and has partnered with Georgia-Pacific to build a recycling facility that is turning municipal waste into pulp for making boxes and containers.

Koch facilities

Many Koch facilities use KES technology. Pine Bend Refinery in Minnesota has relied on KES innovations to help reduce targeted emissions by more than 70% since 1997.

KES’s capabilities in engineered equipment and analytics help industries remain compliant with increasingly stringent environmental regulations. They also help customers use resources more efficiently. Being able to use less water for processing and less fuel for combustion or power generation can have enormous benefits for the environment.

Dan Haycook, chief commercial officer for KES, is pleased with how the company offers so many important environmental benefits to customers outside of Koch. “It’s important for us to help our customers achieve their own stewardship goals. Our innovations and environmental technology have helped them operate in ways that are cleaner, more efficient, more compliant and more reliable,” Haycook said. “Although we look at things through the lens of stewardship rather than ESG checklists, the simple fact is we all have stewardship responsibilities and we all want to achieve environmental excellence.”


Putting Down Roots

Georgia-Pacific is known for using forest products to make everything from plywood to paper towels. In the communities where its employees live and work, GP is also known for helping make public spaces such as ballfields, playgrounds, parks and trails even better. “By doing that,” said Jack Priblo, GP’s senior director of marketing, “we help bring people together in ways that benefit the community. That’s been especially important during this time of COVID.

“It only makes sense that a leader in sustainable forestry would also be a leader in helping our communities thrive. These are the places where we as families put down our roots. It also makes sense,” Priblo added, “that GP invests in America’s greatest natural resource — our children — by supporting equal access to a quality education. We are working to increase access to opportunity by actively supporting our teachers and schools, innovative STEM and vocational instruction, job training and workforce development.”

Thousands, millions and billions

Imagine you’re a groundskeeper responsible for maintaining a football field. Then imagine you’re responsible for 4.4 million football fields. What’s more, you’re expected to keep track of nearly 2 billion trees growing on all those properties. That’s the size of the challenge facing Bobby Maddrey at Georgia-Pacific.

Maddrey is GP’s director of global forestry and biodiversity. He’s responsible for making sure GP does not buy any timber harvested from the 6 million acres of endangered forests and protected wildlife habitats. (GP owns no forest land, so it buys timber and feedstocks from hundreds of suppliers in the U.S.) In the past, monitoring all those properties meant Maddrey and GP’s small army of foresters had to drive what he describes as “thousands and thousands and thousands of miles” to inspect sites from Pennsylvania to Texas and all along the Pacific coast. Thankfully, a combination of two technologies — digital forest mapping and satellite monitoring — has changed how he looks at things.

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    Bobby Maddrey, Georgia-Pacific's director of global forestry and biodiversity.

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    GP is the first and only forest products company that maps and monitors endangered forests to help ensure it only purchases sustainably sourced wood.


“Our mapping process is very complex,” Maddrey explained. “We combine state biodiversity data, sophisticated modeling and inputs from environmental groups to create customized maps. Then we overlay those with satellite imagery to get the best possible picture of these forested tracts.

“An algorithm our team developed can identify any changes in vegetation and produce a detailed display showing exactly where those changes have occurred.” Maddrey said he can monitor timber tracts in any one of 19 states on a monthly basis, all from his desktop.

The satellite technology GP relies on is provided by Planet, a San Francisco-based company founded in 2010. Planet has deployed about 200 mini-satellites (“they’re smaller than a football”) that photograph every inch of the earth’s land mass every day. Koch Strategic Platforms recently became an investor in Planet, which plans to go public before the end of 2021.

leaf river

In March, GP’s Leaf River facility in New Augusta, Miss., became the first pulp mill in the nation to earn EPA ENERGY STAR certification.

Maddrey emphasized how Georgia-Pacific has made it clear to suppliers it does not want to purchase any products — logs, chips or even sawdust — from trees harvested in endangered forests.

“Whenever our investigative process confirms a cutting in one of those areas, we track the material to make sure it does not end up in a GP mill. We’ve been pretty effective at communicating our message.”

Despite its success, Maddrey said, this program is unique in the industry, “probably because it’s so complex and costly. But we do it anyway, because we think it’s the right thing to do. I believe GP’s approach to protecting the environment in this way is the best there is.”

“What Bobby and our team have accomplished with programs like this is really impressive,” said John Mulcahy, GP’s vice president of sustainability. “You don’t always think of trees and technology in the same breath but that’s a daily reality for us. When you combine our endangered forests program with our companywide support for sustainable forestry and our innovative new products, such as recyclable padded mailers for e-commerce, it becomes clear that GP is committed to stewardship in every sense of the word.”

“I’m proud to work for a company that cares deeply about using resources wisely and creating an environment that empowers individuals to be the best they can be.”

— Sheryl Corrigan, Director of Environmental, Health & Safety