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Scott’s toilet paper plant is on a roll in Chester thanks to the pandemic

By District Energy posted 12-15-2020 07:27


The Philadelphia Inquirer


A second wave of coronavirus has triggered a second wave of product shortages in grocery stores, though not as severe as the panic-driven hoarding that cleared shelves of everything from soup to sanitizer in March. This time around, many retailers have once again imposed limits on purchases of the humblest of household products — toilet paper.

The Chester plant produces 2 million rolls of tissue a day — that’s 1,389 rolls per minute, or 23,000 little squares of toilet paper every second. The annual production would wrap around the planet about a thousand times.

Since the pandemic hit, the Chester mill has been operating full-tilt to keep up with demand. The company immediately imposed strict work rules to keep employees socially distanced and masked. It also reduced the number of packaging options for retailers, requiring fewer production line stoppages to reconfigure equipment for bundling the tissue.

The Chester mill stepped up output during the pandemic at the same time as it was completing a major $150 million upgrade at the mill: construction of a new natural gas-fired cogeneration plant. The production of paper requires enormous quantities of energy, both to run machinery and to dry paper. The 24-megawatt cogeneration plant, supported by a $6 million state grant, supplies the plant with all the electricity and steam it needs.

The new power plant, which went online earlier this year, allowed Kimberly-Clark to retire its coal-fired power plant. Demolition of the old plant is underway now. The conversion reduces the mill’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, which helps Kimberly-Clark get a step closer to its goal of cutting its carbon footprint in half by 2030.

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