Water is one of our planet's key natural resources and it's essential to sustain life on Earth. It is also crucial for our operations. We interact with water resources and water cycles in our forests, plantations and when producing energy, pulp and paper. High-quality fresh water is a precondition for, for example, high-quality paper products.
Water is needed in pulp and paper production and it is also used to cool machinery.
UPM uses water in production as a diluting agent and transport medium. Fibres, fillers and additives have to be strongly diluted in order to form a smooth sheet of high quality paper. Compounds from wood fibres dissolve during manufacturing, and a small proportion of the chemicals and other raw materials used in the process remain in the water.
Water is circulated several times in the production process and only a small portion of the water used in pulp and paper production leaves the process as effluent and has to be replaced with fresh water.
Some chemicals are also needed to produce pulp and paper. UPM sets requirements for chemical suppliers not to use restricted chemicals, and monitors the residuals and impacts in waste waters.
As our cooling water is not contaminated at all, we can release it directly into watercourses. We use a small quantity of water for steam production at the power plants.
UPM’s Zero Solid Waste to Landfill project focuses on the five side stream fractions in the paper and pulp industry that are the most difficult ones to recycle and utilise. One of them is sludge. UPM has not deposited sludge in landfill sites in years because its high organic content makes the fraction suitable for incineration after drying. Where sludge is concerned, the Zero Solid Waste to Landfill project focuses on improving the fuel value of the side stream as well as building new cooperation networks. Researchers are examining new ways to utilize sludge in the production of biogas and fertilizers.
With responsible water use we want to highlight the importance of the water resources and good water management all over the world. We focus on projects that improve the status of water resources and increase awareness of good water management to ensure high-quality water availability.
UPM treats all waste water in primary and secondary effluent treatment plants before we release it into watercourses. The water is treated according to the BAT (Best Available Techniques) reference document defined by the European Commission.
The biological treatment stage is an efficient way to remove dissolved organic contaminants and nutrients from waste water. Most of our mills have their own effluent treatment plants. Some mills have their waste water treated at a municipal or other external effluent treatment plant.
We regularly monitor and review, together with relevant authorities, the emission levels in watercourses into which waste water is released. In some regions, the potential harmful effects of effluent on fish and other aquatic organisms are also assessed by conducting comprehensive receiving water studies.
All UPM pulp products are elemental chlorine free (ECF) or total chlorine free (TCF) and UPM paper products are manufactured from elemental chlorine free (ECF) or total chlorine free (TCF) pulps.
In ECF bleaching, the bleaching agent is chlorine dioxide, and in TCF either hydrogen peroxide or ozone. Studies have shown that there are no significant differences between the treated effluent of modern ECF and TCF pulp mills.
To minimise the impact of both ECF and TCF pulp mills, it is important to have a biological effluent treatment plant in place. In addition to that, the optimisation of the whole production process plays a much bigger role in reducing the impact on the environment than the bleaching method itself.
All of UPM’s pulp and paper mills are required to have both a mechanical and a biological effluent treatment facility, and thus all waste water is treated in mechanical and biological effluent treatment plants before being released into watercourses.
Most mills have their own effluent treatment plants or the waste water is led to a municipal or external effluent treatment plant. The biological treatment stage is an excellent controller of waste water quality, because the organisms in the biological treatment stage are sensitive to harmful compounds. Biological treatment also removes harmful compounds from waste water.
Emission levels in waste waters are regularly monitored and reviewed, both internally and by relevant authorities. In some regions, the potential harmful effects of effluent on fish and other aquatic organisms are also assessed by conducting comprehensive receiving water studies.
Green carpets of algae conceal the rocks rising from water. A fisherman’s nets are covered in slime. The waters are abundant with rough fish. The effects of eutrophication are visible to everyone dealing with the Baltic Sea.
UPM wants to make sure that all its employees, regardless of their country or location, work in an environment that is as healthy as possible. In line with this goal, UPM is the first forest industry company to commit to the WASH programme of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). WASH is an acronym standing for ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’.