Effectiveness of ozonation before and after biological treatment for removal of recalcitrant organic matter in bleached kraft pulp effluents was compared. Two industrial ECF bleached eucalypt kraft pulp effluents (E1 and E2) were pretreated with 100 mg O3/L. Raw and pretreated effluents were treated biologically in bench-scale sequencing batch reactors, under constant conditions. Following biological treatment, effluents were post-treated with 100 and 200 mg O3/L. Effluent pretreatment increased effluent biodegradability by 10% in E1 and 24% in E2. Combined O3-biological treated led to small but significant increases in COD, BOD and lignin removal over biological treatment alone, but pretreatment had no significant effect on effluent colour and carbohydrate removal. Ozone pretreatment did not affect biological activity during treatment of effluent E1 but resulted in a 38% lower specific oxygen uptake rate in effluent E2. At an equivalent dose of 100 mg/L, pre-ozonation produced better quality effluent than post-ozonation, especially with regard to COD and colour. Likewise, when an equivalent dose of 200 mg/L was applied, splitting the dose equally between pre- and post-treatments was more efficient than applying the entire dose in the post-treatment. The potential for combined chemical–biological treatment to improve effluent quality has been confirmed in this study.

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