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ECF Technology New ray of hope for Greener Tomorrow

Have you ever wondered why your paper is white most of the time? What is the chemical used to make the paper whiter from its brown color wood based raw material? Are these chemicals environmental friendly? These questions can be answered if we look deep into it.

Conventionally, Elemental Chlorine is used in the pulp and paper industries, has its harmful effects particularly on aquatic environment. When bleaching agent Chlorine is used to make paper white, byproducts such as chlorinated compounds, dioxins and furans are formed. Thus the chlorine residue during the papermaking process generates pollutants like dioxin and organo chlorides, which are toxic in nature. While released in environment these toxic pollutants get into the food chain of the animals and accumulates in their fat cells. Dioxin and other pollutants enter the human body through sea food and other aquatic life forms.

In consideration with these harmful effects of chlorine, major initiative has to be taken to minimize the use of chlorine as a bleaching agent in the production of pulp and paper. As per Kyoto Protocol of the WTO, Indian paper industry will have to replace the chlorine-based process of pulp manufacturing with Elementary Chlorine Free Technology (ECF) to ensure greater safer and greener environment. Effects of ECF Technology are recognized by the Government organizations around the world and its contribution towards sustainable ecosystem recovery.

ECF bleaching is based on chlorine dioxide, is the superior technology to be used for sustainable pulp and paper manufacturing. It also gives desired results like superior product quality, resource conservation attributes and compatibility with sustainable minimum impact on manufacturing.

TRIDENTs Initiative:

In their pursuit of international competitiveness Trident has selected Elemental Chlorine Free technology while modernizing its front line. Trident is the first paper mill across the World to adopt this technology on Wheat Straw (Agro Residue) to manufacture Virgin pulp and still save close to 5000 Trees every day for manufacturing 480 MT of paper every day, as compare to 100% wood based Mills. No waste cutting is used for making the pulp.

Pulping and bleaching strategies incorporating ECF produces strong fibers, minimizing the reinforcing fiber requirements for many paper grades. It has also been recognized that in combination with enhanced fiber strength, ECF manufacturing has a higher yield, using the least amount of wood compared with other pulping and bleaching techniques. Therefore to remain cost effective, large volume converters and paper makers choose higher strength ECF pulp only. Besides, ECF is compatible with closed loop strategies for minimizing wastewater from bleaching, which helps in protecting the water system.

The global discussion on the use of ECF bleaching to reduce environmental pollution seems to have passed largely unnoticed in India. To improve the domestic availability of ECF paper, there is a need for investment in technology up gradation from the pulp and paper manufacturers. The Indian pulp and paper industry even today works with a technology that is way below international standards, which also results in inefficient resource utilization and ultimately low environmental performance.

However, though investing in elemental chlorine free plant is socially and ecologically desirable, economically it may not be so. Only large-scale manufacturers with strong financial base would have the ability to incur such a high cost required for converting into ECF technology. Therefore, it is realized that the Government would also have to take initiatives towards introducing a set of measures facilitating this technology up gradation.

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