Someone’s Waste is Another One’s Treasure: Zero Waste in the Paper Industry
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
With the dawn of the digital age, experts have predicted the demand for paper would drop significantly. Thus the waste it produces would also decrease, giving hope to a more sustainable environment. However, it seems like it was just a pipe-dream since the demand for paper is expected to double by 2030. The Paper Industry Waste Management: Is the Paper Industry Really the Bad Boy?
The paper industry is in the crosshairs of environmentally-sensitive people and organisations for quite long. First of all, trees- the major elements in the environment we are trying to save-need to be chopped down to produce paper. Which means the primary - if not the only - source of oxygen is also the raw material for paper industry. Also, trees are not the only raw materials that the paper industry needs. The industry also uses water and mix it with many chemicals before releasing to the environment- wastes, going directly back into the soil and other freshwater sources.
And the statistics about paper industry are terrifying, to say the least.
Almost 40% of all chopped trees are diverted to paper production every year. Additionally; in order to produce 1 kg of paper, 324 litres of water is needed. Water is usually released to the environment after being mixed with chemicals used in the bleaching process, so it is obvious that the paper industry uses consumes crucial natural resources in addition to trees.
The pulp and paper industry is the 4th largest industrial user of energy, consuming 1.8 Billion MWh in 2005, and a significant emitter of greenhouse gases. Worldwide, the pulp and paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy, accounting for 4% of all the world’s energy use. In 2011, there were 81 mills drawing wood from the Southeastern region of the United States, and they were producing over 20,000 tons of paper sludge per day, which is enough to fill 20 olympic sized swimming pools with waste, every day.
Is it Possible to Conduct a Sustainable Paper Industry?
Aforementioned scary environmental facts supported by numbers show us the need for a novel waste “management strategy”. Current practice, which is simply dumping the waste into landfills and covering it up, is causing the land to become unusable for a long period of time. That means that paper and pulp industry not only consumes valuable natural resources that are crucial for human life but also the industry is consuming land itself, too.
Despite all the facts and terrifying numbers, we can’t expect a whole industry to close up shop and leave. Precautions and sustainability measures can also be imposed, but only up to a point. Because these measures are usually costly and industries pose a strong resistance when you ask them to give up their profitability.
An ideal approach will be to offer a solution that will both be beneficial for the pulp and paper industry and the environment. Hence the phrase in the title. “A man’s waste is another man’s treasure.” Paper industry’s waste is actually a treasure...
A Novel Technology Converting Paper Sludge to Valuable Products
Biotechnology offers very feasible and profitable innovative ways for the paper and pulp industry to become more environment-friendly and not only keep their profitability but also increase it. With the help of Epicellulyse XTTM technology, the paper pulp can be converted into nutrient-rich fertilizer and biogas. The Epicellulyse XT technology is based on Episome Biotech’s natural enzyme, CelluRise. The live enzyme can breakdown the cellulose in paper sludge and can release high energy sugars from the waste, an optimal raw material for biogas production.
Epicellulyse XT has 2 main outputs: Biogas and organic fertilizers. Both outputs are indispensable elements of a circular economy! Organic fertilizers are needed for healthier and sustainable food production and biogas is a next generation environmentally friendly biofuel that can be used instead of fossil fuels. Both organic fertilizers and biofuels are commodity products that have an established markets and high values.
By the means of using Epicellulyse XT, pulp and paper industry cannot only acquire a zero waste policy but can also become even more profitable. Considering fuel and chemical fertilizer production, these are two other major sectors contributing to pollution and global warming. Pulp and paper industry can improve their non-green image by adopting zero waste policies in a profitable manner.