Paper and cardboard: doing more with less… water

Save water, one drop at a time.

Producing recycled paper takes waste paper and water, which means the pulp and paper industry is a huge consumer of “blue gold.” A few years ago, paper mills began adopting newer and much more responsible methods for managing the precious liquid. Did you know that paper pulp straight out of the pulper (the tank in which pulp is made), is actually 99% water and only 1% fibre? This goes to show how important it is to practice proper water management in the industry!

Improving our processes, one drop at a time

What steps is Cascades taking to conserve this precious resource in its paper and cardboard manufacturing processes? Here’s a rundown:

  • Making recycled paper consumes much less water than making virgin paper. Our wastewater totalled 12.5 m3/mtin 2013—only about one fifth of the industry average of 61 m3/mt.1
  • Our ultimate goal is to use the same water almost continuously by closing the circuits in our facilities—a major operational challenge that certain units have already met successfully.
  • All our facilities are equipped with water meters to measure the effluent.
  • On average, the quality of the treated wastewater that we discharge is 5 to 10 times higher than that required by environmental standards.
  • Of all activities at Cascades, containerboard manufacturing consumes the least water, with just 6.7 m3/mt on average.
  • Between 2010 and 2012, Cascades conserved: The equivalent of Niagara Falls flowing for 28 hours straight

See the Performance Report on the 2010–2012 Sustainable Development Plan (pp. 45 to 49) for more details and statistics about water.


Pushing our limits

This coming March 22 will be World Water Day. To mark the occasion, Cascades is proud to be renewing its commitment to reduce its water effluent: we pledge to continue efforts to limit our discharge to 10.6 cubic metres of water per saleable metric tonne by 2015.

Consult the other objectives of our 2013–2015 Sustainable Development Plan.


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About the Author
Marie-Eve Chapdelaine

Marie-Eve Chapdelaine is a specialist in sustainable development and has worked at Cascades since 2006. She is particularly interested in building public awareness and changing attitudes regarding social and environmental issues. In her role at Cascades, Marie-Eve uses her expertise to inform, guide and support her colleagues in maintaining the company’s leadership position in sustainable development. She has earned an undergraduate degree in public communications from Université Laval and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environment at Université de Sherbrooke. “I’ve always been interested in environmental causes, but also in social issues. Sustainable development allows me to pursue both interests at once. What better than to work at Cascades, a beacon in this area, and a company that is open to implementing all sorts of measures to improve performance and maintain its leadership position.” Because she believes every citizen needs to take responsibility for improving their living environment, Marie-Eve is also socially engaged, sitting on several community boards and committees.

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