The impact of effluent discharges continues to be an important issue for the pulp manufacturing industry. Considerable progress has been made in pollution prevention to minimize waste generation, so-called manufacturing “process closure.” Since the mid-1980s many important technologies have been developed and implemented, many of these in response to organochlorine concerns. Zero effluent operation is now a reality for a few bleached chemi-thermomechanical pulp (BCTMP) pulp mills. In kraft pulp manufacturing, important developments include widespread adoption of new cooking techniques, oxygen delignification, closed screening, improved process control, new bleaching methods, and systems that minimize pulping liquor losses. Coupled to this is a commitment to reduce water use and maximize reuse of in-mill process streams. Some companies pursued bleach plant closure, and many have been successful in eliminating a portion of their bleaching wastewaters. However, the difficulties inherent in closing bleach plants are considerable. For many mills the optimal solution has been found to be a high degree of closure coupled with external biological treatment of the remaining process effluent. No bleach plants at papergrade bleached kraft mills are known to be operating effluent-free on a continuous basis. This paper reviews the important worldwide technological developments and mill experiences in the 1990s that were focused on minimizing environmental impacts of pulp manufacturing operations.

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