According to the World Water Assessment Program of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), water consumption on the planet will increase between 20 and 30% by 2050. This expectation, combined with possible scarcity of the resource and sustainability policies, has encouraged industries to seek efficient use of water in their operations, in order to reduce withdrawals from primary sources.
In the cellulose industry, Eldorado Brasil’s efforts led to a 24% reduction in the volume of water used in production between 2022 and 2012, when operations began. All stages of the process are regulated by legal and technical criteria defined in environmental authorizations. And for the industry to process wood and separate fiber from cellulose, it is necessary to use water at several stages of the process.
“We are attentive to all opportunities to make production more efficient, always considering aspects related to sustainability, we adopt actions to control the consumption of surface capture in forests, and the data is analyzed to check if they meet the criteria, parameters and objectives. We can affirm that water extraction for forestry projects complies with technical recommendations and that the effects on water extraction comply with the standards established by the company and current legislation,” explains Fabio de Paula, Executive Director of Sustainability and Environment at Eldorado Brazil.
Focus on sustainability from the foundation
Conscious use of water was already part of the company’s strategies long before it became a concern for other companies. “Since opening we have adopted high-tech systems to recover losses and, mainly, to treat effluents and we continue to invest in improvements to achieve the lowest possible water consumption”, emphasizes Fabio de Paula.
Over the years, the teams’ commitment and investment in continuous improvement have made it possible to achieve increasingly sustainable rates, as is the case with water consumption in the industrial production process. of cellulose, which amounted to 24.5 m³/tsa (tons of cellulose) last year. . Compared to the market, the factory’s results remain highlighted, as indicated by the IPPC (Integrated prevention Pollution control) indicates a consumption of 30 m³ to 50 m³ per tonne of cellulose produced.
In 2017, the company launched two major projects to optimize water use in its plantations. De Paula says the first was the development of an “irrigation calculator,” software that helps field technicians determine the amount and frequency of irrigation needed based on weather information. The second, carried out in partnership with the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, is “When and how much to irrigate? », which, thanks to studies of techniques and equipment, makes it possible to precisely determine the correct irrigation time and the volume of water. necessary.
“In 2019, the Eldorado Technological Zone and UFMS created the IrrigaELD project, which allowed us to advance in studies related to irrigation management and indicated the real possibility of saving up to 50%. of the volume of water consumed during the planting phase, contributing directly to sustainable production,” says the executive.
He adds that in the industrial complex, filter wash water from Etac (boiler water treatment plant) is used in the utility cooling tower basin, where industrial water was previously used to replace losses, and at the same time, it began to treat less effluent.
“We work with modern water and effluent treatment plants (ETA/ETE) and discharge almost all of the volume we capture into the river. In 2022, more than 86% of the water used is returned to the Paraná River under suitable environmental conditions. To this end, we adopt advanced effluent treatment technologies. These systems remove impurities and harmful substances from wastewater, ensuring that it meets the environmental parameters established by CONAMA (National Environmental Council), applied to effluents discharged into water bodies,” explains Paula, emphasizing that of the remaining 14% of water used, part is incorporated into the final product, i.e. cellulose. “This means that water is retained in the raw material and becomes part of the product as a moisture factor. What remains returns to the environment by evaporation, without causing negative impacts.
Water resources monitoring
To monitor and control conscious water use, Eldorado tracks the following indicators:
- Quantitative indicator – Water extraction: control of consumption from underground and surface catchments for the production of plants and the development and maintenance of forests. Data is stratified and analyzed to verify compliance with criteria, parameters and objectives.
- Qualitative indicator – Nursery, streams and farms: control and monitoring via water analysis to ensure they are on legal premises. The following elements are assessed: the potability of water from nursery wells for human consumption; effect of forest management on the surface waters of the Córrego Jataí, a tributary of the Ribeirão Boa Vista, Córrego Estiva, Indaiá and Brioso streams.
- Microbasin monitoring: Eldorado is part of the Cooperative Program for Monitoring and Modeling of Hydrographic Basins (PROMAB) to carry out hydrological monitoring of one of its microbasins. All data is made available to PROMAB/IPEF for regional and state studies. In addition, the consolidated information is accessible to all partners linked to the program and is part of the company’s studies on water resources. In partnership with the undergraduate and postgraduate courses of the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, an environmental and water vulnerability study was promoted, with the aim of generating water and environmental vulnerability maps of the Ribeirão das Cruzes , Córrego Bebedouro and the Urutu stream. The results of this work will lead to continuous improvement of environmental actions and programs for the environmental security of micro-basins, as well as the measurement of potential environmental impacts linked to water resources.
“Eldorado depends on natural resources for its operations, with water availability being a critical factor for forestry and industrial production. Intelligent consumption of natural resources, energy efficiency and low polluting emissions generate operational gains and create environmental and societal value,” concludes the company’s Executive Director of Sustainable Development and Environment.