Water management and water profile
Water management is a focus at all Norske Skog mills. 98% of the water taken into the mills is returned to the waterways after treatment to fulfil the local quality requirements for water discharges.
Mankind’s increasing use of freshwater resources places a strain on global water resources. Policies and practices for sustainable use of this natural resource are a prerequisite for a sustainable global development. To help assess the impact of different products on water resources, different water footprint tools are under development. Water footprint accounting includes monitoring of both direct and indirect use of freshwater, measured over the full supply chain. For paper products, this includes water evaporated during tree growth (green water), water consumed during the production phase (blue water) and the water required to assimilate the discharged pollutants based on existing ambient water quality standards (grey water).
It is important to realise that the water footprint figure itself does not reveal much about the actual impact of operations at the local watershed level. A low water footprint could be less sustainable than a high water footprint. For instance, the water footprint for paper depends mainly on the time it takes for trees to grow. Trees use a lot of water to grow and paper will therefore have a large water footprint. Boreal forests are characterised by a humid climate, where precipitation is higher than evaporation. Forests sustain and slow down the surface runoff, preventing flooding, erosion and leaching of nutrients. A sustainability assessment using many indicators is needed to gain understanding of whether mill operation and forest management practices are within the boundaries of what a water catchment can sustainably support. Norske Skog will implement water footprint reporting when an international standard has been agreed upon. In the meantime, we will report our water profile. Water scarcity is not an issue in any of the forest or plantation areas supplying Norske Skog or in any area where our mills are located.
The majority of fresh water used by Norske Skog’s mills (89%) originates from surface water sources. A further 9% is supplied from ground water supplies and a relatively small amount, 0.1%, comes from municipal water supplies. Water also enters the manufacturing process through the raw materials which are purchased. Fibre based raw materials (wood, wood chips, recycled fibre and purchased pulp) constitute approximately 1.5% of water input. Non-fibre raw materials (such as chemicals and steam) make up the balance.
The majority of water which enters our mills (56%) is used to cool machinery and equipment performing electricity or steam generation and/or pulp and paper manufacturing activities. The rest of the water is used in the papermaking processes (“process” water). Most mill effluents are discharged to river and lake systems after treatment. No effluent is discharged to groundwater aquifers.