PULP NONFICTION – Upswing in Paper Industry Sparks Filter Needs

Mary Anne Hansan, President of the Paper and Packaging Board, calls the resurgence of the paper and pulp industry a reaction to our “Have it Your Way” world. Specialized packaging for everything from food to pharmaceutical products involves single-use packaging solutions that—due to their multiple recyclability—should actually be considered “individual” use. This shift in thinking helps deflect broadside attacks against the industry for wasteful deforestation as replanting of forests now outpaces harvesting, meaning that regions that host paper and pulp plants are favorable for environmental conditions as opposed to other areas that clear trees for developments and shopping centers.

All of this means that dependent industries associated with the manufacturing of paper products like specialty product companies and shipping entities will be enjoying an economic knock-on effect. For example, just last week, ND Paper, a subsidiary of Hong Kong industry titan Nine Dragons Paper, bought the previously shuttered Old Town Mill. ND Paper also announced that it would invest $111 million into the Rumford Paper Mill, a company less than 100 miles away. Between the two, it’s expected to add 150 new jobs to the rural region. It’s also believed that some of the pulp could be exported, a lucrative new market boost for the state’s forest products industry.

Maine is also set to receive a $36 million railway upgrade to help serve the state’s resurgent pulp and paper industry. The Federal Railway Administration will contribute $35.5 million to replace aging rails and renovate road crossings and bridges on a 75-mile stretch. The Maine Department of Transportation will contribute an additional $568,000 to the project, slated to begin early next year. This marks another investment with environment concerns in mind: railway shipping customers will decrease the use of trucks for transporting goods and raw materials, as it’s believed that trucking is not only a more expensive option but also one that can be environmentally harmful.

Also potentially harmful to the manufacturing and storage environment are the oxidizing agents produced during the process of bleaching paper stock. Modern mills no longer primarily use chlorine as a bleaching method and have adopted other methods that produce the powerful oxidizing agent Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2). This process is extremely reactive and must carefully controlled in a vacuum. Undesirable impurities, which include oxidizable substances found in tank cars and storage tanks like rust, dust and organic contaminants such as hydrocarbon greases, oils and rubber, can make the reaction unstable.

Further consideration must be paid to the daily volumes of water used in the paper mill. Many mills draw their water from a surface source. Plants located in colder climates see an increase in the amount of silt in the water during the spring runoff or snow-melt period, resulting in a heavy increase of filter usage. Many paper mills will employ RO membranes. These are typically protected by multistage prefilters which may include baskets, bags, and melt blown filters. In general, pulp and paper mills consume large quantities of disposable filter cartridges.

UPDATE: In a recent Unfiltered post we covered recent grim statistics involving arsenic contamination if private water wells. Now, it appears that the problem persists with certain brands of bottled water. A recent study by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has revealed high levels of metal arsenic in two brands of bottled water sold by Whole Foods and Walmart. Last month, the organization announced that it had discovered large amounts of the toxic contaminant in Starkey, which is owned by Whole Foods, and Peñafiel, which is owned by Keurig Dr Pepper and sold at various Walmart locations. For more information on drinking water filtration, click here.