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Paper Industry’s Continuous Resource Sustainability Efforts & World Class Performance

The Indian paper industry in the last few years has attained some remarkable improvements in areas of water and energy conservation, reducing pollution loads to environment, and tapping green energy. The manufacturing practice reforms have been initiated both by self-will and regulatory norms. The most striking thing however is positive acceptance of the regulatory norms by the industry despite being troubled by excessiveness of these sometimes.

CII organized the 11th of PaperTech on August 30-31, 2017 in Hyderabad with the theme ‘Make Indian Pulp and Paper Industry World Class’. The technical seminar as usual was held in close association with the paper industry’s representative bodies Indian Pulp & Paper Technical Association (IPPTA) and Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA). In addition to deliberating on national and international perspective on sustainable growth of the industry, the two-day event raised a myriad of pertinent topics such as energy saving solutions for paper making, mill’s automation, sustainable practices, energy conservation strategies, etc.

Abuzz with words like ’sustainability’ and ‘environment-friendly’, the Indian paper industry is now discussing various ways and means to harness ‘green energy’ and to explore all possible opportunities in enhancing it in pulp and paper production. In this reference, the seminar dedicatedly brainstormed on this topic in a session on subjects such as trying innovative solutions for energy and power saving in fiber line and chemical recovery operations, GreenCo experience, continual improvement practices in the chemical recovery island.

Moreover, participants also discussed the possibilities in daylight harvesting with natural air and customized solutions for the heat reduction. An interesting perspective on the future of food packaging industry with the advent of new generation bio-polymer was put forth in a session. The advantages of rooftop solar on BOOT model in harvesting more green energy to fulfil various other energy demands were discussed at length.

Water & Energy Conservation: Prerequisites for Sustainability

29The plenary session set the tone for the two-day event with pithy outline of the ensuing sessions with a blanket topic ‘National and International Perspective on Sustainable Growth of the Industry’. Expounding on the topic Mr. K. S. Kasi Viswanathan, Chairman, PaperTech 2017 said, “With the objective of ushering the pulp and paper industry towards world-class performance, we started organizing PaperTech in 2007, and this is now the 11th edition, suggesting a strongly continuing run of a worthwhile idea. The idea of the seminar for the paper industry was first mooted by CII, which was already organizing such programs for other water and energy intensive industries such as power, cement, and so on; these programs elicited tremendous response from these industries, and PaperTech is no different. Over a period of time, PaperTech has discussed a number of issues on efficiency and conservation fronts, and has been able to address many such other challenges.”

Mr. Kasi Viswanathan chose water conservation, energy efficiency and green energy utilization as more current and pressing concerns among many that the Indian pulp and paper industry is facing. “Water scarcity is a major issue and water conservation an utmost need for our industry, and if we are not energy efficient and do not conserve water, it will end up being an environmental issue. We are an industry where the product is ideal and sustainable. However, our industry is both energy intensive and water intensive. We need to work hard and see how to reduce our energy and water consumption. We have done a lot of good work and reduced the water consumption considerably in the last few years, and we are now 30-40 percent lower than what we were few years back,” he said.

He added, “In India, two energy certification schemes have been started, namely the Renewable Energy Certification (REC) mechanism, implemented in India during 2011, and the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) for the Enhanced Energy Efficiency Program in 2012. There are though certain issues, which the industry has to face related to the schemes. PAT puts a check on your specific energy consumption. You are not supposed to consume beyond some units decided as per your production.”

“Furthermore, regulation on water is also a concern. The mills are given a specific limit. They can’t consume more than a certain volume of fresh water. The regulations coming up on groundwater is another knotty affair for some of the mills, who are dependent on groundwater. There are a lot of researches that are going on to reduce the BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) numbers in terms of ppm. Today BOD is less than 30 ppm, and I am sure, it is not too far away when the number will come down to 20 or lesser. Similarly, we have issues on COD and TSS. The Government’s regulations on energy, water, and environment are becoming stringent day by day. In PaperTech, we wish to address these issues,” concluded Mr. Kasi Viswanathan.

Reclaiming Every Ounce of Fresh Water

30Sustainability means we have to be sustainable in whatever we are consuming, said Mr. Pawan Agarwal, President, Indian Pulp & Paper Technical Association. “For me, the most important resource to be sustained and preserved for our future generation is not raw material, energy, or even chemicals, it is water from all respect. When you talk about environment, it covers all subjects collectively. If you take care about environment, you are bound to become sustainable, and for which you have to take care of your raw material and water conservation,” he added.

Mr. Agarwal has been active throughout the drafting of national charter on pollution control promulgated by CPCB and he cautioned the industry not to expect any leniency on the part of the Govt. with regards to various regulations on effluent discharge and resource consumption. “We should not expect leniency. The norms are going to be more stringent for the betterment of our own future generation. We have been forced to use as low as 50 cubic meters of water per tonne of paper, and, as a result, we are using 40 cubic meters/tonne today; and last month figure of our industry is 37.5 cubic meters despite maintaining the same COD and BOD norms, which of course is a pleasant surprise. The COD and BOD level have already been revised for the Ganga river basin. Presently, we are maintaining a COD level of less than 200 ppm as against 250 0r 300 ppm in other parts of the country, and BOD less than 20 mg/l as against the standard norm of 30 mg/l. Consequently, we have to conserve water as there seems to be no other alternative,” said Mr. Agarwal.

He further said, “There are certain practices which I can share with you. We can start with paper machines. In high pressure showers in our machines, we were consuming around 48 cubic meter fresh water per hour. We studied how to reduce water consumption and therefore placed an order of ultra high pressure showering system from a European company, who is committing as low as 2.4 cubic meter per hour water consumption. It is truly unbelievable! There are other associated benefits too like better felt life, better performance of felts throughout its life, low water consumption, and even lower energy consumption. Despite these showers being operated at 160 bars, the overall energy consumption is low. We have to look at and adopt this type of wonderful breakthrough technologies. Besides, we need to improve the efficiency of the machines, which covers most of our problems and brings down our water consumption and energy consumption at the optimum level.”

Mr. Agarwal also elaborated on ways to treat the effluents effectively by segregating the effluent streams. “Looking at the effluent treatment systems, one thing which I found the best and effective way to handle any effluent coming out from the paper mill is to segregate the streams – high-load, low-load, and medium-load streams. This way study of the characteristics of each and every stream becomes easy. And, if you have high organic COD load, you need to install anaerobic system to complement the aerobic treatment process. That is what we have done in our own mill couple of years ago. We got 80 percent COD reduction out of our anaerobic system,” he explained.

Adding further to this point, he said, “We should try to treat each and every stream at the source of generation itself, and that is what we are doing in partnership with a company based out of Europe. They are working on two streams for us; one is the EOP effluent, which is having color, high COD, and all the problems one can possibly have. Now, the company we have partnered with are trying to put some membrane system so that we can concentrate that waste, and since it has sodium ions, it can be taken to recovery. The brine can go to ETP, which would be much easier to treat.

“Similarly, for our wet-washing effluents, which is coming out of bio-methanation plant, we are working with the same company to install some membrane technology to concentrate it to such a level that the inorganic pollution load can go to the recovery. This could be a breakthrough. If this happens, the load on the ETP can come down drastically by 60 percent, and then we can think about the zero liquid discharge.”

Concluding his highly informative address, Mr. Agarwal said, “We have to reclaim each and every drop of water we use. I believe the groundwater is only for one use, i.e. human consumption. It shouldn’t be utilized in any industry whatsoever. We need to seriously work in this direction. The technology is at our doorstep and thus it is not difficult to make our industry world class. I am glad CII and PaperTech have been taking this burning topic forward, and with our collective wisdom, we will definitely make this whole world a better living place for our future generation.”

Tipping Engineering & Technology with Environmental Concern

31Mr. A. S. Mehta, President, JK Paper put forth a very ideal and broad definition of engineering and technology and indicated that these fields of scientific discoveries can never be bereft of nature. “When we talk about engineering, we think of its meaning in a restricted way. In my view, engineering is nothing but discovery, imagination and application of the science hidden in nature, not in a distorted sense but in sync with nature.

“Over a period of time, the engineering has taken a confined meaning of equipment related processes and methods. In fact, we need to think about what we need today, how do we take that as a challenge and convert it into our imagination, and how we can convert the imagination into application by way of totally radical and different processes in the manufacturing sector. This is the true meaning of engineering according to my sense.”

He further added, “I still remember my first visit to the JK Paper Mill, when we were going to commission our new project. When we conceptualized the entire project, there was a limitation regarding the usage of water. We were not allowed to draw more than 40,000 cubic meter of water. Our capacity was going up, almost double. We thought that our two older machines with a capacity of 40,000 tonne will be shut and we would only be able to run two older and one new machine. In this situation, we took up this as a challenge and exhorted the people by telling them that water is a scarce commodity and we need to run the mill without the stopping machines.

“I am happy to share that the challenge was seriously taken by all our engineers and today our actual water consumption is much less than even 40,000 cubic meter despite our capacity has gone up from 120,000 tonne to almost 300,000 tonne at the same site. Our per tonne water consumption has come down from 90 to 45 cubic meter. Presently, we are running at 35 cubic meter with a target to reduce it to less than 30 cubic meter. There is nothing impossible. The only challenge and agenda is to reduce water consumption.”

Mr. Mehta said, “Each time when we do the Capex, our whole focus is on what kind of ROI, productivity improvement, and other cost reduction is there. These are some of the parameters for any planned capex. All of us need to induce a change in our approach by thinking that what kind of environmental improvement we can do with the capex being considered. In the times to come, stringent norms are going to be there and there is no reason why there should not be. The challenge and the need is how we can leave a better legacy for the future generation. That can happen only when we improve on all these parameters. As an Indian citizen I must say, we do better when there is a restriction. It is good that there are restrictions because then we are forced to do better. There should be more force so that we do better in the time to come.

“The paper industry holds an image of being water and energy intensive. I don’t understand why there is any need to be defensive. There are innumerable industries more water or energy intensive than the paper industry, but they don’t talk too much. And here we become so defensive. The whole image of the paper industry needs to be redone. The industry which talks more about pollution creates more and more pollution. Still, they become holy cows in the people’s eyes. On the other hand, we are the people who are doing every bit for greening the country and making the environment positive.

“The challenge is we need to work more and more towards the technology which gives us advantages. The incidental factor is going to be the profitability, but the prime objective needs to be that how we are safeguarding the environment, greening the country, and reducing the consumption of the resources. India is still at deficit from the capital point of view. Our capital cost is huge and whenever we talk about the technology, which can contribute in the greening and reduction of fossil fuel, we need large investments. This is where we have limitation. We have been requesting to the Govt. for some kind of technological fund. Unless there is some kind of a subvention or subsidization, the whole lot of capital investment in the energy efficient or the environment-friendly capital investment is difficult to come.”

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