World Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a way of focusing on the importance of freshwater and supporting the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
As part of its 2030 agenda the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water for all. This is the framework that we used to create our 2019 Sustainability Strategy, which includes our plan to implement clean and environmentally sound technologies to minimize water usage in the manufacturing of recycled fiber. We are conscious of each and every drop used in production, enabling our facilities have the lowest water usage in the industry, which we are committed to maintaining year over year
How does Sustana Fiber reduce water usage?
Green America estimates that in creation of paper products, moving from virgin to recycled manufacturing creates 43 percent less waste water. Accordingly, Sustana Fiber’s 100% recycled EnviroLife™ fiber which is compliant with FDA standards for food grade packaging, made from 100 percent post-consumer materials, is a responsible choice for packaging suppliers because it uses 9 times less water than virgin fiber to produce.
We are conscious of the energy used, water used, wastewater treated, and by-products recycled in manufacturing post-consumer paper products into new fibers. As revealed in our Life Cycle Assessment undertaken by the AGECO research and consulting firm, our fiber has a comparatively lower impact than generic North America virgin fiber throughout its entire lifecycle, including throughout (1) resource production and supply, (2) resource transportation, and (3) fiber manufacturing and waste treatment.
Sustana Fiber’s pulping machinery has significantly higher horsepower than that of typical recycling mills. At a weight of roughly nine tons, the spindle rotor turning within the pulper heats up water by one degree every two minutes: few pulpers on the market can create this amount of force.
Water used throughout production is collected, cleaned and reused, and our recycling facility recirculates every drop of water 17 times. Solids are also removed from the water and repurposed in landfarming or animal bedding products. Furthermore, as part of our commitment to resource efficiency and conservation, any wastewater undergoes a treatment process to reduce Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) by over 80 percent before it is released back to water bodies.
The impact of using Sustana Fiber’s recycled fiber
Sustana Fiber’s sustainable manufacturing and business practices deliver premium 100% recycled fibers for a broad range of paper, tissue and food packaging products –– and focus on maximizing product quality while minimizing water usage, energy usage and waste throughout production. Through this approach, we can help our partners reach their sustainable supply chain goals.
For example, as part of the Cup-to-Cup: Closing the Loop partnership project with Starbucks, we recycled 18 truckloads of Starbucks cups, or nearly 288 tons. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that every ton of paper recycled saves 7,000 gallons of water, meaning this project saved over 2 million gallons of water
In 2016, Sustana Fiber’s Wisconsin mill found a way to divert cold water from pipes near the end of our production line to our plant’s cold-water supply, resulting in water savings of just under 8 percent per ton of fiber produced between 2016 and 2018.
As you can see, sometimes small changes can have a big impact. This World Water Day, organizations should look closely at the water use within their supply chains. Switching to recycled fiber for paper and packaging products can not only reduce water use, but it can also help to lower the overall environmental footprint and help reach sustainability goals.