Paper mills in Thailand: vital for watering the crops

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Paper mills in Thailand: vital for watering the crops

February 21, 2012 - 14:00
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BRUSSELS, Feb. 22, 2012 (RISI) -At Thailand's SCG Paper, where continuous progress in sustainability is a way of life, an initiative to reduce fresh water consumption and water treatment costs is paying off. The company's efforts reach well beyond the mill to local farmers, where quality treated water is provided for corn and other crops.

Sangchai Wiriyaumpaiwong, Wangsala mill director for Thai Kraft Paper Company (TKIC) Limited in SCG Paper, says, "We are as proud of the thriving corn crop as we are of efficiency gains in water management. We have put systems in place to reduce freshwater consumption by over 30% and energy costs are lower. What's more, our wastewater treatment receives process water with most of the fines and fibers already removed. The centerpiece of our program is the PetaxTMfine filtration system from Kadant."

TKIC in SCG Paper, stepped into the forefront within the company in late 2009 putting competing filtration systems to the test on site. Winning out over a competitive system, the Petax filtration system has kept running smoothly, day and night, now for over two years.

TKIC has decided to put three more units in place in 2012. Following TKIC success, Siam Kraft Industries, a business unit of SCG Paper, installed two units. Thai Cane Paper and Thai Union Paper Industry, also business units of SCG Paper, will employ one system each later in 2012.

Continues Wiriyaumpaiwong "We are able to maximize the benefits from continuous circulation of clean whitewater, capturing 85% of fibers and colloidal material down to 5-10 microns, and 99.5% over 30 microns.

Sangchai Wiriyaumpaiwong, Wangsala mill director, beside the Kadant Petax filtration unit. SCG Paper has installed four Petax fine filtration systems already, and has plans for three more. Whitewater takes on a higher value, and eases the stress on the water treatment system. Machine runnability gains from the water cleanliness, because shower clogging is eliminated.

SCG accomplishments in water management

  • Reduced fresh water usage to the benefit of mills and local communities
  • Increased productivity and runnability, because shower nozzles do not clog
  • Energy savings with reclaimed and reused processwater.
  • Chemical cost savings
  • Higher wastewater treatment efficiency
  • Satisfied farmers supplied with quality, filtered water.

Leukulwatanachai Chartchai, managing director of SKIC and TKIC, adds, "With obstacles removed from our whitewater recirculation process, we are making gains in productivity and efficiency. Looking beyond the paper mill, our wastewater treatment team can focus more on supporting the needs of local farmers, rather than add chemicals dosages that are no longer necessary.

"Without the addition of chemical flocculants, fiber sweetener stock, or precoats, optimal performance of showers on the wires and felts has been achieved. Buildup of deposits on shower heads or other mechanical systems is no longer a concern."

Wiriyaumpaiwong continues, "Functionality of high- and low-pressure showers are the toughest test of process water cleanliness. We are running even smoother than before. In addition, reusing process water also means gaining the benefit of energy savings, because energy is captured for re-use. We also see an improvement in the quality of our end products."

Kosol Kosolkijwong, manager of waste treatment says, “Higher efficiency and lower wastewater treatment costs result from cleaner whitewater coming into the system. He points to the wastewater treatment area that has benefited from higher efficiencies and lower costs based on whitewater coming into the system

Repeat successes

SKIC mill chose the Petax filtration system to recycle whitewater used in the papermaking process via single-stage filtration of liquids containing a high level of suspended solids. The equipment is similar to that supplied to them earlier, as well as a kraft packaging plant before that.

A specially designed felt-like filter media is applied to each of a series of discs. Process water is evenly distributed into the filter vessel across the surface of each disc. The filter vessel, filled with process water, operates under low pressure (0.1-0.3 bar). The submerged discs slowly rotate, gaining speed as pressure increases. Cleaned filtrate passes through the media to a hollow space in each disc, from which it collects in a central hollow shaft at atmospheric pressure.

Throughout the process, the discs are continuously cleaned in three stages. First, filter cakes are doctored off and pumped away. Then, clean filtrate is pumped back through the media to remove debris, which is pumped away. Next, a submerged, oscillating high-pressure shower cleans the media.

Local farmer Saney Khamlek, who uses water from the mill, says his corn crop is thriving
Tree farmers gain from SCG Paper
Now that more than 70,000 farmers have their own plots of eucalyptus as a cash crop, SCG Paper is committed to help them gain the most from their investments. They are important contributors to all three SCG Paper pulp mills in Khon Kaen, Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi Province, which require about a total of 2 million tones/yr of eucalyptus. SCG Paper sponsors comprehensive services to local farmers from pre-cultivation to post-cultivation to ensure sustainable growth of the country’s industrial forestry production. Trees grown under the Care program, using silviculture techniques, offer better yields. The Comprehensive Agricultural Relations Efficiency (CARE) program covers soil quality analysis, testing improvement, suitable fertilizer and eucalyptus seedling supply, free cutting, price valuation, cultivation promotion, purchase centers, and financial support.
Under the program, The Siam Forestry Company Limited in SCG Paper also pledges to buy trees for 1,000 baht each after four years of cultivation. Started in 2010, CARE covers 14,000 rai of eucalyptus plantation area, with about 320 farmers already. The program has raised farmers’ yields by 50% to an average of 12 to 20 tonnes per rai from 8 to 13 tonnes before.

The innovation team

The management innovation team at SCG Paper, which includes leaders from all pulp and paper mills in the group, places a high value on new solutions relating to water efficiency, including a positive contribution to local communities.

SCG's president Roongrote Rangsiyopash adds, "More than meeting governmental regulations, we are constantly looking to reduce our utilization of natural resources. Our relationship with the community around the Wangsala mill serves as a model for the similar programs elsewhere in Thailand, including fine paper and all three pulp mills."

Notes innovation team member Amnuay Ponpued, managing director of Phoenix Pulp and Paper in SCG Paper, producers of eucalyptus pulp and fine paper in northeastern Thailand, "When our company-wide technology group was presented with options for water optimization, our entire team believed that TKIC was the ideal starting point to make major gains. Their success has confirmed the potential value for many other mills in the group."

Ponpued continues, "SCG Paper is constantly researching the cleanliness of water of each mill before use, during production, and when we put it back into nature. This includes strict independent measurements to quantify water quality. Close by the Phoenix mill, a research farm is an exciting part of our work, where we study frogs, bees, butterflies, bananas and more. Our studies and practical observations help to confirm water quality released from the mill, and to make certain that local farmers are supported as they should be."

Adds Chartchai, "We are the steward's for the next generation, and must lead the way as a major employer and contributor to society on a local basis, and throughout our country."

SCG’s holistic ecocycle
Over 70,000 families produce eucalyptus for three SCG Paper mills, complementing larger, commercial sources of supply.
Twenty-eight villages around SCG Paper at Wangsala District, and Khon Kaen Province receive much of their water for agriculture. So, how best could these mills be described? Are they simply a step in the supply chain of producing books, magazines and packaging for consumers and businesses?
It could be said that SCG Paper has a holistic view of the entire ecocycle at each mill’s geographic location, realizing the interconnection with local communities. This philosophy extends throughout Thailand, based upon production of pulp, Kraft and fine paper, as well as the conversion for packaging at eight strategically placed boxplants.
In addition, SCG Paper actually plays a central role in sustainability education, as well as promoting “inspirational” employment of paper products. That includes its Idea Green of multi-purpose office papers, and the more recent Idea Max, which is designed for color printing on both sides.
Says Rangsiyopash, “When you consider manufacturing, community relations, educational activities and products from SCG Paper, we have close links with all 66 million citizens of Thailand in some way—many times each year.”
The meaning of SCG Paper’s reach is not simply about market share, but also “share of mind” concerning the bigger issues such as responsible practices across business, communities and the environment.
Continues Rangsiyopash, “We see paper as part of our society’s infrastructure. Our parent company’s production of cement is literally part of modern Thailand, because of extensive road building and urban development over the past thirty years. In a similar way, SCG Paper has a structural role in business practices and movement and packaging of goods.
We focus on a quality product offering, produced in a high quality way. This includes environmental high performance, and a harmonious relationship with everyone who touches what we do customers, communities, businesses, and suppliers.
In addition we are minimizing the use of raw materials, making paper with less energy, less fiber, and especially less water. We also encourage wise use of paper, ranging from printing on both sides to lighter weight, stronger packages.”

Martin Koepenickhas written about the pulp and paper industry for more than 25 years visiting mils around the world:mkoepen@gmail.com