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Case study

Catalyst Paper, Surrey Distribution Centre

Overall Impact

  • projected $84K in annual operating savings ($21K/lift)
  • projected annual avoidance of 169 tonnes of CO2e (42.25/lift)


  • replacement of aging propane lift trucks with electric lift trucks

Payback period

  • projecting < 0.5 year payback on additional costs associated with switching from propane to electricity

Catalyst Paper Corporation (“Catalyst”) is one of North America’s largest pulp and paper companies with annual production capacity of 2.3 million tonnes. Based in Richmond, B.C., Catalyst is a leader in sustainable business practices and has been recognized by Corporate Knights as one of Canada’s Best 50 Corporate Citizens. Catalyst is committed to “treading lightly and working cooperatively” in communities where it operates, and has achieved a company-wide culture of operational excellence and employee ownership in business performance and results.

In 2015, as part of a partnership between Climate Smart and Port Metro Vancouver, Catalyst participated in the Climate Smart program. Alongside 11 other Port tenants, Catalyst measured the greenhouses gas emissions associated with its Surrey distribution centre, and identified opportunities to reduce its impact while also cutting costs.

During this process, Catalyst highlighted its ongoing efforts to reduce emissions associated with its onsite equipment; in particular the lift trucks. Darcy Adams, Safety and Facilities Manager, had already spent significant time looking at replacing four of the site’s aging 10,000 lb propane lift trucks with electric ones; specifically the Hyster E100XNS. During his research he learned that the electric lift truck technology had made a recent shift away from using DC powered engines to AC powered engines. The benefits of this technological advancement included:

  • Higher load capacity;
  • Faster and smoother response, compared with traditional propane models;
  • Reduced maintenance, compared with traditional propane models;
  • Improved energy performance;
  • Safer recharge (eliminating the risk of acid leaks and/or hydrogen releases); and,
  • No longer being susceptible to engine failure due to exposure to the elements, meaning they can be used both indoors and outdoors.

When Darcy ran the numbers he found that the business case was just too strong not to make the switch. By his calculations, each AC drive lift would save the company $21,000 in annual operating costs (including $7,000 in annual repairs). Each lift would also prevent the release of 41 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. While there is a 15% premium on the cost of the electric lifts, this difference will be recovered in less than half a year from operational savings.

While this initiative had begun prior to working with Climate Smart, Adams says, “Climate Smart helped us measure the environmental benefit of programs like the adoption of electric forklifts. This feeds directly into our goal of being a sustainability leader. What’s more, participating in this Port-sponsored initiative gave us an opportunity to share what we’ve learned within our industry. Unfortunately, the business case for investments in electrification, which can often be very strong, is still not well communicated. We hope that our work helps make it easier for others to make informed decisions when looking to upgrade their equipment.”

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