"Trees make a lot of wonderful things," Guzman said. At the Rome plant, part of IP's industrial packaging division, Southern pine is used to create brown paper used largely in cardboard or corrugated paper boxes. She told the business group the Rome plant does not actually make boxes, but ships its paper out to box plants across the Southeast, including plants in Atlanta and Cleveland, Tennessee.
Guzman described the process of converting raw timber to paper as a process a little bit like making mashed potatoes.
"We're maximizing fiber recovery, we're supporting the ecosystem and we're keeping forest land forested," said Guzman. She explained that IP does not actually own land, but purchases timber from private landowners who are committed to best practices as it relates to sustainability.
"Everybody that sells to us has to go through our third-party sustainability forestry initiative," Guzman said. At one point, one timber owner had an issue with woodpeckers. "We stopped the whole thing and put approval on hold until we could figure out how to deal with the little group of woodpeckers," she said.
The plant in Rome, opened in 1954, is in the process of a multi-million dollar mechanical and technological upgrade. Guzman said while the company does purchase power from the grid, it also converts steam generated at the plant to help fuel much of the operation. "We reuse everything," Guzman said.
Guzman said the Rome mill has one of the best quality control systems in the entire IP network of plants.
"We have a full wastewater management system," Guzman said . She stated that wastewater put back into the Coosa River is cleaner than the water withdrawn from the river.
The company has been focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the plant.
"Every year we get better," Guzman said. "We're 100 percent in line with that. We've never had any permitting issues."
Guzman said the company offers a lot of different job opportunities for the future workforce, particularly electrical and instrumentation jobs.
The plant is currently in the midst of a routine shut down for maintenance.