If you recall your high school science, you’ll remember that ALL the water on Earth has been recycled – through evaporation and precipitation – billions of times. There’s a finite amount available and humans are using it. Some are abusing it. But others are reusing it.
Canada and the United States use 85% of North America’s abundant water supply for industry and agriculture. But unlike agriculture, most industries return large quantities of water to its source after it has been processed.
Paper manufacturing, for example, would not be possible without water to convert waste paper or trees into pulp. That’s why so many paper mills are located near major rivers. In their youth, older mills used water power to drive their machinery. Today, the papermaking process adds and removes water to transform raw materials into useful products. Water that is removed is reused or returned to the source. Responsible manufacturers always pay attention to the amount of water they use, the quality of water returned to rivers, and the effect their mills have on the air.
Water used for papermaking must be hot – between 113˚F and 118˚F (45˚C – 48˚C). Heating cold river water takes a great deal of energy, especially in winter. Generally, the needed thermal energy comes from burning coal and natural gas, which are significant sources of greenhouse gases. This is how water recirculation can be a key factor in reducing a manufacturer’s carbon footprint. The more heated water is recirculated, the less energy is needed to heat it, and the less greenhouse gases are produced.
Taking care of every drop
Instead of always using fresh water, Rolland reuses water coming from other manufacturing processes. As outgoing water is dirtier after use, Rolland has installed equipment to remove fibres and certain chemicals. This is without detailing the impressive water treatment units that clean all the water before sending it back to the river. From the recycled pulp plant, which recirculates every drop of water 17 times, to the papermaking plant that recirculates its water more than 30 times, Rolland treats this precious commodity with great care and respect.
Recirculating water isn’t just good for papermaking, it’s also good for the environment, the waterways and the air!