New target in water-stressed regions
SCA has met its previous water target and has therefore introduced new targets. The new targets apply to all mills and focus on treating water as effectively as possible, as well as reducing water usage.
Water is a critical resource and, along with climate change, is one of the most critical sustainability issues facing the world today. We have every reason to treat, reduce and rationalize water usage at every SCA plant.
SCA mainly uses water to transport fibers, and for cooling in the production process. Most of our plants, which account for 97% of our water usage, are located in areas with a plentiful supply of water. However, in those regions with a shortage of water – known as water-stress – this is a serious problem. Accordingly, our previous water target aimed to reduce water usage at SCA’s plants in water-stressed regions by 10% between 2010 and 2015 – a target that had already been achieved by 2013. This target also included equipping all pulp and paper mills with mechanical and biological treatment systems, which was achieved in 2015.
Water is our most important nutrient
Water is our most important nutrient, but also serves other purposes. Think of all the times you use water every day, and what a vital role it plays in our everyday lives. This is why the quality of water is so important and now that we are introducing a new, ambitious water target, the focus lies on improved water treatment.
We aim to achieve water sustainability and we will reduce our water usage in water-stressed regions by 10% by 2015, with 2010 as reference year.
All SCA pulp and paper mills will employ mechanical and biological water treatment plants by 2015.
By year-end 2015, the water usage in water-stressed regions in relation to the production level declined by 18.7%.
Mechanical and biological water treatment systems have been installed at all of the Group’s 43 pulp and paper mills.
New ambitious water target
SCA is introducing new water targets that will apply to all of its paper and pulp units. The new targets take a broader approach and the various units have been given different targets depending on what is most relevant. All water-consuming units are included, but have different targets.
“Different regions have different geographic conditions. Water usage isn’t as big an issue in Sweden as it is in water-stressed regions, such as Colombia and Spain,” says Patrik Isaksson, Vice President, Environmental Affairs at SCA.
SCA’s forest products’ units only have mills in Sweden, where phosphorous could have a negative impact on the Baltic Sea. Accordingly, the business unit target is to reduce phosphorous emissions by 10% by 2020.
The tissue mills are to reduce the level of oxygen-depleting substances (BOD) in water by 10%, and the volume of effluents by 10%.
In addition, the entire company is to reduce its amount of suspended solids by 10%.
SCA uses one of nature’s own smart systems to treat effluent from the company’s paper mill in Kunheim, France.
Since December 2015, reeds growing on four fields around the plant have been used to treat the effluent. The reeds are planted in pools filled with layers of sand and gravel that filter the water naturally. Bacteria living on the roots of the reeds break down the organic matter in the effluent. Drainage pipes at the bottom transport the filtered water to the Rhine River.
The combination of bacteria, reeds and filtering layers make it possible to treat water without adding any more chemicals to the process. The process is also cost-effective, energy-efficient and requires little maintenance.
less water- use in Lilla Edet
The mill in Lilla Edet in Sweden will use considerably less water in the future.
An investment of EUR 2.3m will reduce water usage from three million to two million cubic meters annually, corresponding to one billion liters of water, or 30%. At the same time, the mill’s energy consumption will be drastically reduced since smaller volumes of water will need to be heated during the production process. Water treatment will also be improved.
“It’s great to be able to make an environmental investment that also has such a good financial pay-off. This is a win-win situation for us,” says Gunnar Johansson, Environmental Manager at Lilla Edet.
“This is something we have strived for. We are improving the water treatment process, while also reducing our water and energy consumption.”
The mill in Lilla Edet produces 100,000 tons of tissue annually and has some 400 employees. The investment was carried out in autumn 2015 and will significantly improve the mill’s environmental performance for many years to come.