WATER USE BY PULP AND PAPER MILLS DOES NOT EQUAL WATER CONSUMPTION. MOST WATER DRAWN FROM THE ENVIRONMENT IS RECYCLED MULTIPLE TIMES, CLEANED AND RETURNED TO THE SOURCE.
Between 1959 and 2017, there was an 81% reduction in the average treated effluent flow volume at pulp and paper mills within the United States. Similar progress was made by the Canadian pulp and paper industry.
National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI), 2017
While pulp and paper manufacturing requires a lot of water, 90% of it is returned to the environment in a manner that conforms with water quality criteria in North America. Water is used efficiently within mills with each gallon of water being used more than 10 times before being returned to the receiving environment.1
U.S. pulp and paper mills have reduced water use by 6.6% since 2005.2
In Canada there have been significant improvements in pulp and paper mill environmental performance over the last 20 years through reduced mill effluents, air emissions and water use. Thanks to investments in water-efficient technologies, water-use intensity at Canada’s pulp and paper mills dropped nearly 20% between 1999 and 2010 and a further 3% between 2010 and 2015.3,4
Well-managed forests can lessen many negative impacts on people and the environment. As water passes through a forest ecosystem, it gets cleaner because the soil filters out substances such as mercury, pesticides and other pollutants. Forest cover can slow down or even prevent soil erosion, which can happen during heavy rains and cause sedimentation of streams, rivers and lakes. Forest systems retain moisture in their soils, delay the release of water into streams and help to stabilize the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater in the area.5
It is estimated that 50% to 75% of the U.S. population relies on forest lands to produce adequate supplies of good quality water.6
1 National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI), 2018
2 American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), 2018
3 Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), 2011
4 FPAC, 2015
5 Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), 2015
6 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2017