The paper mill industry produces high amounts of wastewater and, for this reason, stringent discharge limits are applied for sustainable reclamation and reuse of paper mill industry wastewater in many countries. Submerged membrane bioreactor (sMBR) systems can create new opportunities to eliminate dissolved substances present in paper mill wastewater including. In this study, a sMBR was operated for the treatment of paper mill industry wastewater at 35 h of hydraulic retention time (HRT) and 40 d of sludge retention time (SRT). The chemical oxygen demand (COD), NH3-N and total phosphorus (TP) removal efficiencies were found to be 98%, 92.99% and 96.36%. The results demonstrated that sMBR was a suitable treatment for the removal of organic matter and nutrients for treating paper mill wastewater except for the problem of calcium accumulation. During the experimental studies, it was noted that the inorganic fraction of the sludge increased as a result of calcium accumulation in the reactor and increased membrane fouling was observed on the membrane surface due to the calcification problem encountered. The properties of the sludge, such as extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and soluble microbial products (SMP), relative hydrophobicity, zeta potential and floc size distribution were also monitored. According to the obtained results, the total EPS was found to be 43.93 mg/gMLSS and the average total SMP rejection by the membrane was determined as 66.2%.

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