Agenda 2020 Launches ‘Roadmaps’ to Efficiency, Sustainability, and New Product Goals


Excellent—we have detailed, action-focused roadmaps. Time to take a road trip!”

That was Kapstone’s Fritz Paulsen, chair of Agenda 2020, celebrating the release last spring of five technology pathways to increased sustainability and efficiency in pulp and paper manufacture and to new opportunities in cellulosic nanomaterials. At the time, Paulsen and Agenda 2020 Executive Director David Turpin were launching the next phase of the effort—implementation.

It’s a milestone for the industry,” Turpin added. “One of our teams has already issued requests for proposal to conduct the research they identified. All of the teams are now conducting or at least guiding projects, with ambitious plans to move forward.”

The technology plans, developed by the Agenda 2020 member companies with an Advanced Manufacturing grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), are available for download free of charge at

The Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance is an industry-led consortium of manufacturers, suppliers, researchers, and government partners that promotes development of advanced manufacturing technologies for the pulp and paper industry, with the objective of increasing its sustainability, efficiency, and competitiveness. To accelerate major improvement in the industry’s energy and natural resource efficiency, Agenda 2020’s board identified five areas it considered most likely to lead to promising technologies (see Fig.1). With the generous support of its member companies, the board commissioned teams to address each opportunity; set aggressive improvement goals; identify current barriers to those goals; and devise pathways over, around, or through them. The NIST grant followed.

Turpin says that 80 percent of the effort is devoted to breakthrough advances in core technology; the other 20 percent goes to developing new bioproducts from cellulosic nanomaterials (see “Research Pathways and Outreach to Drive Cellulosic Nanomaterials Development,” by Kathleen Bennett, TAPPI Journal, June 2016).

Only an industry-level effort like this can propel significant advances,” Turpin claims. “Our industry should be proud of the leadership of our companies in establishing their sustainability goals, and of the encouraging results reported by the American Forest and Paper Association this summer (see ‘Leadership in Sustainable Manufacturing,’ by Jerry Schwartz in the Jul/Aug 2016 issue of Paper360°.) An undertaking like these technology roadmaps—and more importantly, the next phase, implementation—is dedicated to providing the vehicles and drivers for significant sustainability progress. We are clearing the obstacles from the road.”


Turpin points out that research roadmaps alone do nothing to generate efficiency—actual progress requires results and implementation. Agenda 2020 asked some people how they would use the roadmaps, and heard from manufacturers, suppliers, and government officials.

Developing these paths to enhanced sustainability was a rewarding collaborative experience,” says Nalco Vice President Steve Govoni, “and now my company is scrutinizing every paragraph, finding new ideas to help the industry move ahead.” Govoni co-leads the team seeking to increase re-use of process water with Matt Rachford, director of sustainability, business strategy and development, Georgia-Pacific.

Our company participates in Agenda 2020 to support R&D enabling step-change improvements in the industry that are difficult for any company to undertake individually,” adds Rachford. “We are eager to see results of this effort, as we believe it will help improve the long-term viability of our industry.”

That wish is being realized. All teams are managing or monitoring projects related to technology priorities (see Table 1). The Black Liquor Concentration team, for example, has been contributing liquor samples and information about real-world operating conditions to Teledyne, which has been working under DoE contract to develop a membrane-based technology for black liquor concentration. Teledyne is now making plans with a member mill to install a pilot demonstration this fall. Other membrane-related approaches, such as a Robust Membranes project at Georgia-Tech’s Renewable Bioproducts Institute, are also being explored by the Agenda 2020 team.


While the dozens of industry technical experts on these teams toast the completion of the plans and the launch of the research phase, they also reported benefiting from the experience of developing them. John Gast, manager of emerging and external technology at Solenis, draws the parallel between Agenda 2020 and his company’s process of gaining the voice of the customer on technical needs. “Agenda 2020 gives us a channel at the customer corporate level. It is a valuable outcome of membership for a supplier company,” Gast observes.

Ted Wegner, a TAPPI fellow who recently retired as assistant director of the Forest Products Laboratory, USDA Forest Service, cites his work with Agenda 2020 as a way to keep abreast of the industry’s technology needs—and also the reverse. “Being part of the Agenda 2020 team was one way to deliver Forest Service-developed technology and insight back into our industry,” he says, “and it also gave me a way to make appropriate contacts with progressive companies interested in creating the technological future of the industry.”

Wegner is one of several partners engaging with Agenda 2020 in the development and implementation of the plans. In addition to its partnership with the Forest Products Lab, Agenda 2020 works with agencies of the Department of Energy and several national laboratories.

Having a strong connection with companies through Agenda 2020 has been extremely insightful for Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” says Bill Peter, director of the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility there. “It helps us better understand the challenges of our industrial partners and how we can aid in the development of improved bio-derived materials like cellulosic nanomaterials. We also collaborate with them on opportunities for energy efficiency improvements in the paper and pulp industry, and communication on other bio-derived materials for commercial use.”

Another example is the P3Nano project under the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, which seeks to promote new opportunities for forest-based materials as one means of keeping forest-based towns economically healthy and productive. Project Director Michael Goergen plans to use the cellulose nanomaterials roadmap as one source of material for an upcoming solicitation of proposals for research work.

The paper industry’s National Council for Air and Stream Improvement was a significant contributor to the team working on reuse of process effluents, with staff members serving as co-leads and contributing a detailed literature review in the field. TAPPI and its members have contributed to technical content and publicizing the effort.

Among universities, the Renewable Bioproducts Institute (RBI) has been an active partner, making a strong effort to incorporate Agenda 2020’s industry research priorities in its endowed Paper Science and Engineering research portfolio (see related article on page 20). This year, six of eight awards were directly connected to Agenda 2020 priorities from the roadmaps. Another active partner is the University of Maine.

We work vigorously to involve public and private partners from government, industry, and academia,” says director Turpin. “We seek their expertise and we can help researchers in academia and the private sector access the necessary experts and wherewithal to conduct their projects.”

Teledyne, for example, credits its Agenda 2020 partnership as a factor in winning a DoE contract to develop membrane-based technology for black liquor concentration. “Having Agenda 2020 as an industry partner on our application certainly enhanced our chances of being selected for a contract,” says Vivek Mehrotra, Teledyne manager and technical fellow. “During our investigations, having input from Agenda 2020’s team members about their typical manufacturing conditions such as pH, temperature, flow, and black liquor characteristics—and their required endpoints, like solids content—is helping us develop a workable, energy-efficient alternative.”


Where will Agenda 2020 get the “gas money” for these road trips? Turpin cites the commitments of member companies to fund well-grounded projects. “Our board members have reviewed the first RFPs and indicated their interest in funding strong proposals in all four areas,” he asserts. “We also plan to apply for federal and private grants, using company investments and in-kind contributions as matching funds. We will continue to work with endowments like RBI and P3Nano, and others. Nothing encourages funding more than successful results, and we’re determined to generate some of those in the short term.

We’re so grateful to the companies and to NIST for supporting this important work,” Turpin adds. “We encourage everyone to join in the critical effort to conduct the research and implement the results. Together, we can lead to an even more efficient and sustainable industry.”

Kathleen Bennett is principal of Kathleen M. Bennett Consulting, LLC, and a former chair of the TAPPI Board of Directors. She has extensive experience in the pulp and paper industry, with a concentration in government affairs, communications, environment, and business process development.

Vision 2030

If the roadmap projects are successful and broadly implemented, the US pulp and paper industry could accomplish the following by 2030:

Reduce purchased energy by 50 percent, saving over 500 TBTU per year.

Reduce water used per ton by 50 percent, reducing water discharge nationally by 480 billion gallons per year.

Develop new bio-based products worth US$5 billion in sales per year.

Protect 370,000 existing jobs by making 359 mills in 40 US states more sustainable economically, environmentally, and socially.

Dramatically improve the life-cycle sustainability of its products.

How to Participate

Agenda 2020 suggests several ways to participate in the roadmap process:

Brainstorm on the opportunities for increasing energy efficiency. We welcome your ideas. How can we collaborate to implement your ideas?

Spread the word—encourage associates to review the roadmaps and join the effort.

Identify partners for research, implementation, or networking; talk to your university and research institute contacts.

Respond to RFPs as they are issued to accomplish the priority objectives in the roadmaps. No need to wait for RFPs—contact us at any time to suggest fruitful possibilities.

Join Agenda 2020 if you haven’t already ( Membership is open to forest products manufacturing and supplier companies, universities, and government agencies (no membership fee for universities or government entities).

Fig. 1: Agenda 2020’s technology roadmaps are aligned with industry goals and national priorities.

Table 1: The five roadmap teams and their goals.

To develop the roadmaps, the five teams held workshops, gathering member company and affiliate representatives to discuss the most likely pathways to success. Shown at the Reduced Drying Energy Team Workshop are [rear, left to right] Chuck Hunter (Xerium), Louis Morimanno (Omya), Arvind Singhal (Andritz), Marcelo Deboni (Kadant), Chris Luettgen (RBI), [front, left to right] Kirk Ross (Sappi), and Greg Pittman (International Paper).

When Agenda 2020 and TAPPI visited American Process, Inc., they planted this tree to mark their partnership.