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Pulp & Paper is Inherently Sustainable

N Gopalaratnam CopyMr. N Gopalaratnam, CMD, Seshasayee Paper and Boards Limited during the RISI Seminar addressed the audience about the importance of sustainability and its need in the growing business scenario. Here are the edited excerpts from his presentation.

Sustainability is a highly debatable subject having the high intensity of investigation. And if we ignore this subject then probably in next 20-30 years it will be impossible to sustain ourselves. I thoughtfully chose this subject so that we have the fundamental knowledge of where we stand as a paper industry. It all started at a Rio summit 20 years back, which is the largest environmental convention in the world. Jobs, energy, cities, food, water, ocean, disasters are the areas chosen which need priority attention. Any development that takes place on the sustainable side it should be socially desirable, economically viable and ecologically sustainable. This is what has become a famous triple bottom line approach. The raising concerns over the climate change are also an important issue. Climate change refers to a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to million years. While global warming refers to surface temperature increase. Acceleration seasonal rise, droughts, floods, storms, heat waves, disrupts food production, eradication of important species, habitats and eco-systems are mainly caused by green house gas emissions. The carbon that secreted forms the cover, which traps the gasses thereby increasing the temperature. The biggest cause for this is considered to be coal as it generates 40% of the total global electricity. The power sector is said to be responsible for 37% of all manmade CO2 emissions. The estimate says that carbon emissions in Asia Pacific set to increase by 85% in the next 2 decades. SO2, NOx emissions from coal-based power plants cause acid rain. And, if the enough steps are not being taken then the global temperature is said to rise by 40. In china due to its uncontrolled growth, 1/3rd of its portion is said to be affected by acid rain.

Renewable Energy & Paper Industry

Deployment of renewable energy has been increasing rapidly in recent years.

Diagram 1

Diagram 2Paper Industry and Climate Change

The reason why paper industry is coming into the act of climate change is due to certain reasons such as:

Heavy impact on green house gases (GHG) emissions due to high energy requirements

Consumption of fossil fuels in boilers, gas turbines, incinerators, lime kiln

Consumption of fossil fuels for electricity generation for process consumption

Methane generation during treatment of waste waters or on disposal into a landfill

Irresponsible sourcing of forest raw material procurement

European Pulp & Paper Industry & Climate Change

According to the sustainability report 2009, European pulp & paper industry is the single largest consumer & producer of renewable energy (55.0% of total energy) with its constant focus on energy efficiency. The EU target is to reduce their carbon emission by 50% in 2050 as compared to 2020. The strategy that EU is adopting to tackle its energy issues is to use best available technology and develop new technology, install CO2, captive and storage, fuel switch, increase recycling, introduction of bio-refinery concepts etc. The rapid increase in the demand of FSC certified products has created the tremendous pressure on the companies to produce products sustainably. The same story goes for US pulp and paper industry.

Diagram 3Indian Paper Industry & Energy Consumption

Right now consumption of Indian paper industry is estimated to be around 12 MT and we are expected to grow to 20 MT by 2020. Lot of investments has been made in the last couple of years on technological up-gradation, R&D, product development etc. Our energy consumption in 1987 was 60 GJ/t then it went down to 51 and now the average energy consumption is 40 GJ/t. Different steps to reduce the consumption of energy has been taken by GOI like PAT, REC which are slowly making their way in the Indian paper industry.

Indian Paper Mills – Energy Sourcing in Mills

As of now Indian paper industry mitigation strategies are on:

Improving energy efficiency of the process

Use of cleaner fuels for energy generation

Reuse of biomass generated by the process (black liquor, bagasse pith, wood dust, primary sludge etc.)

Use of efficient co-generation to meet electricity and heat needs

On-site manufacturing of PCC using CO2 emission

He concluded by mentioning a quote of Mr. Junathan Porritt, Chairman, UK Sustainability Development Commission “There are not many industries around the world that can aspire to becoming genuinely sustainable. The pulp and paper industry, sustainability of paper industry however, is one of them. It is inherently sustainable.”

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