In addition to harvesting rainwater, the company returns roughly 90% of water withdrawn from the Tietê river, one of the main rivers in São Paulo state, flowing through numerous cities and towns.
In the month we are celebrating World Water Day, on March 22 Bracell reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability and is increasingly investing in innovative operating models. The company that boasts the greenest and most modern pulp plant in the world uses a sustainable process for conscientious water usage. The results are impressive: approximately 90% of rainwater withdrawn from the Tietê River, located 22 km from the municipality of Lençóis Paulista (SP), returns to the river as treated effluent.
The data is the result of periodic collections carried out by a company certified by official state authorities in conjunction with the Company’s Industrial Environment team.
After being used in our manufacturing process, the water goes through an effluent treatment system that removes organic and inorganic load extremely efficiently, before being discharged back into the river. Bracell treats effluent in three phases, which has earned the company the reputation of pioneer in the pulp sector in São Paulo state, as it was the first company to adopt this measure. Phase one removes inorganic compounds, phase two organic matter and phase three entails polishing the effluent.
“The water withdrawn from the Tietê river has a high organic load. After treatment, the water is directed to the pulp production process. After use, the water then returns to the company’s treatment station, where its efficient processing allows us to reduce the effluent load by a factor of six, before discharging it back into the river. This means that the water being discharged back into the Tietê River is actually better than the water we originally withdrew to use in our production process”, explains Cleber Augusto de Souza, a Utilities and Production Process expert at Bracell SP.
Cleber says the higher the water’s organic load, the longer the water body takes to purify it. “By returning better quality water, we are contributing to the entire ecosystem and society in general”, he contends.
The amount of water withdrawn and returned is regulated by the licensed authorities, and frequently reported on. According to Cleber, the investment made in technology during the project allows us to reduce our water withdrawal to well below the permitted federal limit, protecting the watercourses and riverside communities.
Bracell periodically analyses water quality, and all reports are fully auditable. In addition to the Tietê river, Bracell regularly monitors the quality of groundwater on its land.
Much more than merely celebrating the date, Bracell adopts ongoing initiatives to enhance its processes whilst respecting the environment and water resources. Another example worthy of attention concerns the rainfall harvesting system and recycling of this water by the industry.
“All rainwater is drained into our ponds, and reused in the manufacturing process. This means we can withdraw even less water from the Tietê river, reinforcing our environmental practices and showing that a sustainable business model is possible”, says Murilo Sanches, the Bracell Utilities manager in São Paulo.
“It is our philosophy that something is only good for Bracell if it is good for the community, the country, the climate and our clients; only then is it good for the company. The Tietê river flows through more than 62 cities, and is one of the largest rivers in the state As well as being vital for wildlife, in this region it is also an important tourism hub. This is why we invest in technology to make our business more sustainable, generating positive impacts for society”, concludes Sanches.