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  • Writer's pictureBMJ Indonesia

With Excellent Water Management, Sustainable Paper Production Is within Our Grasp

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

There are two essentials materials that are required to produce paper: wood and water. Many people might be more familiar with wood being the most integral ingredient used to make paper and tissues that we use every day. However, water is no less important— it is the primary agent of paper creation and is required in all of the processes. It changes wood properties and shapes them into paper, while also serving to cleanse machinery and products.

It is no wonder that the pulp and paper industry is often dubbed the highest water consumer. Decades ago, almost 400,000 gallons per ton of product were used in the papermaking process. Nonetheless, due to the rising awareness of sustainable business and technological advancements, water consumption has been managed to press down by 95% per ton of paper over the past 30 years.

Compared to other industries, the amount of water usage in the pulp and paper industry still makes it one of the industries with the highest water usage, but improved water treatment that has been accomplished by the industry this far sparks a bright future for it to reach sustainability.

The pulp and paper industry is working toward sustainability

For many years, the pulp and paper industry has been pressed to address various issues which have raised some concerns. Aside from immense water consumption, harmful wastewater has been an issue that needs to be addressed and resolved in the industry.

To break free from the convention of being the most wasteful industry in terms of water usage and to tackle environmental issues it has resulted in, the industry has shifted its primary focus to sustainability. Many experts have been working on technologies that reduce water consumption, recycle water, and even purify wastewater generated from papermaking production. These technologies range from closed systems, filtration systems, waste-to-energy systems, and biological treatments, which are very helpful for pulp and paper facilities to achieve specific sustainability goals.

In addition to incorporating modern technologies, some programs and strategies are put to work, such as machine inspections to make sure that all water-centric machinery is in good shape. Moreover, regular evaluations are conducted to assess water use in the facility. These strategies are rewarding not only for the company but also for the environment. A more energy-efficient and water-efficient facility could be established as a result and valuable insights could be gained from periodic water audits for the company to develop further water management plans.

The implementation of various strategies, technologies, and company regulations has led many pulp and paper factories around the world to successfully conserve water and control effluents better. If these efforts are done thoughtfully and with commitment, they will aid the production in reducing waste and energy usage, which ultimately saves a lot of operating costs.

Globally, several companies are shown to have effectively implemented sustainable water management in the pulp and paper industry. A pulp and paper mill in Canton, North Carolina, applies an ion exchange within its bleaching system which pushes water reduction by over 40% since 1990. In addition, between 1959 and 2017, there was an 81% reduction in the average treated effluent flow volume at pulp and paper mills within the United States. In the neighboring country, Canada, the pulp and paper mills have dropped their water-use intensity by nearly 23% between 1999 and 2015. To add, an Italian company custom-built a waste-to-energy system that diminishes energy usage by 8,000 kW daily.

BMJ itself has been implementing its own strategy to achieve better water management, and the results are rewarding.

Genuine action for water efficiency and conservation

BMJ is actively looking for ways to improve sustainability and efficiency in our production, especially in terms of water usage. As we benefit from the water of Cibeet and Citarum rivers, which are integral water sources for the local’s livelihood, we always ensure to use and process it with strong awareness and high responsibility. Last year, we carried out a river restoration program at Citarum, West Java, Indonesia, to help in reducing disaster risks and maintaining the ecosystem around the river.

We also pay close attention to how we manage our water. To control effluent and reduce waste, we utilize advanced closed systems and wastewater treatment technology in our production process which helps us restore clean and safe water. Furthermore, our continuous efforts in applying sustainable pulp and paper water treatment have come to fruition—this year, 6.92% of water has been recycled, and there is a decrease of 2.82% of water withdrawal compared to 2020.

BMJ began 2022 with average water recycling of 13,54%, showing our commitment to achieve a higher milestone than last year. We are steadfast to continue broadening our scope, planning better strategies, and integrating beneficial technologies that could aid us in achieving sustainable pulp and paper production.

The industry is walking down the right path towards sustainability, and to keep it under control, sustainable water management and waste management in the pulp and paper industry must be carried out carefully and uprightly.

Learn more about water usage and water sustainability in the pulp and paper industry here.


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