Environmental Responsibility

In February of 2011, Crane began construction on a new Dalton facility that uses a process called pyrolysis to turn waste into energy. Pyrolysis is

a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without the participation of oxygen. It involves the simultaneous change of chemical composition and physical phase, and is irreversible.

Pyrolysis is the basis of several methods that are being developed for producing fuel from biomass, which may include either crops grown for the purpose or biological waste products from other industries.

Doug Crane (VP):

“Crane and Co. is a paper company, but we make all of our paper products essentially out of cotton fiber. We’re really not tied in with the tree side of paper-making; we’re really unusual in that regard.”

“A number of years ago we started looking pretty seriously at biomass. We need a lot of energy and we need it on-demand. When we start up a 400-horsepower motor in the middle of the night, you can’t use solar panels for that.”

“We’re looking to really do away with fossil fuels, in a lot of our operations within our existing infrastructure.”

“Most people know Crane and Co. because it’s high-quality paper; for currency, it’s long-lasting in circulation. They buy it for the attributes. But we want our employees to feel good about the company. Since the government actually values these things, it does provide us with sort of a competitive angle on it to help us be a better supplier. It’s meeting an additional need to the government. When someone steps up to the plate against us, they’ll need to show their product and their renewable energy.”

“The greenback is amazingly green. It’s an agricultural product to begin with, but it’s a byproduct — we reclaim fibers from the textile industry. It’s recycled, really. It’s really a very green product to begin with. Now replacing the energy that goes into producing it? Well, geez, it’s going to be one of the greenest products at the company.”

Charles Kittredge (former CEO):

Q. Crane manufactures paper for stationery and business from cotton instead of wood, and uses a linen and
cotton blend for currency paper. Do you avoid some of the challenges facing companies that make paper
from wood?
A. Yes. From the raw material standpoint, the waste stream is more environmentally friendly. We avoid
cutting trees and trying to dispose of the byproducts. One of our challenges with cotton, however, is finding
the raw materials. We don’t use much cotton grown from cotton plants in the field. Most of our cotton is
from the waste stream of cotton production. We go to textile mills and buy waste products from
manufacturing, and we go to T-shirt factories that have moved from the U.S. to Honduras. We go to
cottonseed oil manufacturers and buy the pieces of cotton that are cleaned off the seed, and we also go to
Eastern Europe. Sourcing the raw materials is also a competitive advantage. We’re good at it.

More on biomass:

The technology, developed by Evergent Technologies LLC, vaporizes scrap wood into
pyrolysis oil to power generators and oil burners. The process emits less carbon and uses
little water compared to other biomass plants, according to Steve Sears of Berkshire
Renewable Power.

Other green initiatives:

Crane has filed for a permit to reactivate a hydropower facility that operated from the
1880s to the 1950s. The hydro plant will be capable of generating up to 235 kilowatts. It
has also been awarded a grant to install a back-pressure turbine at another plant to
reduce high-pressure steam and produce 200 kW of electricity.

In 2007, Crane was awarded a $500,000 grant by The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Renewal Energy Trust Fund to “design and construct a rehabilitated small hydropower generation facility at the Byron Weston Centennial Mills and the associated Byron Weston Dam No. 2.”

The proposed renewable energy project involves the replacement of the existing turbines with a new Kaplan turbine, the installation of new electrical equipment and modification of ancillary civil structures. The maximum power generation capacity of the proposed Project will be approximately 176 kW. Based on average flow conditions and the proposed water control plan, the Project will generate approximately 837 MWh of power each year

James Noel, the Manager of Environmental Affairs at Crane and Co. commented on the grant saying, “Crane and Co. is very pleased to receive this assistance from the MTC.  The company can now proceed with further analysis of the project, knowing that this grant makes it more financially feasible.”  Noel continued saying, “Crane has a long history of environmental stewardship.  The HousatonicRiver was our first source of renewable power in 1801 and hopefully we can renew the tradition in the 21st Century.”

Sourcing materials:

At Crane & Co., worldly market matters have now changed the way the 238-year-old paper company and its employees are doing business, for which the key raw material is cotton and cotton waste by-products. “Now we’re chasing raw materials around the globe, cotton waste products,” said Charles Kittredge, a sixth-generation Crane descendant who was acting CEO until being permanently appointed last week. “Since the fashion industry has gone elsewhere, we are constantly looking at places to get straight-up cotton.”


Nusca, Andrew. “At Crane & Co, A Greener Greenback.” SmartPlanet.com. 6 July 2011.

Lahr, Ellen G. “Crane & Co. is going global.” The Berkshire Eagle. 28 Jan 2008.

McKeever, Andy. “Crane & Co. to use biomass.” iBerkshires.com. 26 February 2011.

Olsen, Patricia R. “Changing Times for A Maker of Very Important PaperNew York Times. 7 February 2009.

Ben Downing, State Senator. “Crane & Co. Awarded $500,000 Renewable Energy Grant” 8 November 2007.

Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, “Crane & Co Hydroelectric Rehabilitation (Construction)” 1 May 2007.

Wikipedia, “Pyrolysis


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