Paper Industry: Supporting the blueprint of circular economy on its journey to net zero

Picture of  Ralf Winkel
Ralf Winkel

Market Director Core Technologies & Regulatory Affairs


Embracing Digitalization for Growth

Even in our rapidly changing world where everything non-digital seems to suffer the fate of the dinosaurs sooner or later we keep on using paper every day. The pulp and paper industry has found ways to cope with the digital era. As the consumer behaviour has shifted, the digitalization has introduced new opportunities for the industry. Where one door closes another door gets opened. Tissue and packaging grades are doing well and achieving significant growth (remember the pandemic!). Segments like printing & writing or newsprint that have been impacted more have adapted. Furthermore, the European pulp and paper industry has committed to playing a leading role in a net zero carbon economy1 while undergoing the most substantial transformation since decades.

Circularity by nature

The pulp and paper industry has always been a forerunner in sustainable use of renewable materials. In Europe the wood for pulp comes from responsibly managed forests. These forests do not only secure wood pulp supplies – they represent important ecosystems which play an essential role to protect the climate and biodiversity. Black liquor, a wood by-product from the kraft pulping process is used as the primary fuel in the kraft pulping process which makes this process almost independent from fossil fuels. Moreover, paper is one of the most recycled products in the world. Many paper and board products are already based on 100% recycled fibres.

Circular Innovation for a Greener Future

Innovation is crucial for meeting the net zero goal. The industry is working hard on furtherly enhancing circularity and sustainability of its products by creating “circularity by design”2 guidelines to ensure that new fibre based products achieve the maximum possible level of circularity. New fibre-based products beyond paper and board will help to reduce plastics packaging, the emerging biorefinery segment is striving to replace platform chemicals of the oil and gas value chain.

Optimizing the processes

Although the industry has reached significant progress in reducing their environmental impact during the past decades, papermaking is a process which is still using water and energy intensively. New approaches are needed for further reduction of energy and water usage.

The best energy is the energy you don´t need” is our guiding principle. Improving energy efficiency and in the same time saving water by optimizing the heat transfer in boilers and paper machine dryers is one of Kurita´s focus areas within our pulp and paper activities. Solutions like Cetamine or the Kurita Dropwise Condensation Technology are reducing GHG emissions every day in numerous applications around the globe.

Membrane treatment technologies will gain rising significance for water reclamation and will amend traditional installations like physico-chemical and biological treatment of effluents. Our colleagues from Avista are ready and prepared to getting the most out of these installations.
The further closure of internal water cycles will rely on a smart combination of effective chemistry and AI driven monitoring and control technologies in order to maintain water qualities on acceptable levels and keeping fouling under control. Technologies like S.sensing CS, Dilurit BC S or Kurita SSK are designed to achieve these objectives.

Leading the Way to a Sustainable Future

The Paris Agreement3 sets out a global framework to combat climate change by limiting global warming below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. In December 2019 the EU laid out in detail its net zero agenda as a binding strategy to combat climate change. There is no question that the pulp and paper industry can – and has to – make a significant contribution towards an economy with net zero emissions. We at Kurita are committed to support our partners in industry with the suitable technologies that will enable them to achieve net-zero emissions.

As we continue our journey toward sustainability and a circular economy, the pulp and paper industry stands as a testament to adaptation and innovation. Together, we can pave the way for a greener and more sustainable future.

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