Smurfit Kappa, a leading company in the production of paper-based packaging, has completed a two-phase upgrade of its facilities at the Barranquilla Paper Mill in Colombia. The 7.5 million USD investment saw the implementation of a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) with state-of-the-art anaerobic technology, which reduces water intake from the nearby Magdalena River and improves the quality of water returned to it.
The investment is a further example of Smurfit Kappa’s ongoing commitment to good water stewardship through using water sustainably and supporting natural water ecosystems.
The upgraded facilities allow the Barranquilla site, which produces containerboard from 100% recycled materials, to contribute towards Smurfit Kappa’s ambitious sustainability targets that were expanded in January 2021. These include water quality targets to further reduce water intake and improve water intensity and usage. Specifically, this includes targets to reduce the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) of the water by 60% by 2025 and to reduce water intensity by 1% annually. It is estimated that the COD at the plant will reduce by 80% as a direct result of this investment.
The WWTP uses advanced technology that includes a circular self-sustaining anaerobic reactor. The facility will also generate biogas which will help to improve energy efficiency and reduce the need for external power sources. Barranquilla is the most recent example and part of a wider investment programme taking place across Smurfit Kappa paper mills in Colombia. Other investments include upgrades to facilities at the Barbosa and Cali paper plants.
Commenting on this new WWTP, Alvaro Jose Henao Ramos, CEO of Smurfit Kappa Colombia, said: "For many years, our operations have been based on a circular economy model in which we seek to maximise resource efficiency and minimise waste. This investment takes us to a higher level of efficiency and excellence in how we process water and is consistent with our goal of being a strategic ally to businesses in the Caribbean region, through our sustainable packaging solutions and environmentally friendly processes."
Juan G. Castaneda, CEO of Smurfit Kappa the Americas, added: "Without a doubt, these projects are one more step in the right direction in our environmental commitment to water and energy efficiency. For Smurfit Kappa, water is a fundamental resource that must be preserved, and we focus our efforts on improving the quality of the water we discharge and reducing our use of the resource, going beyond what is required by law.
“Currently, more than 90% of the water we use is returned to nature in good condition, and the remaining water is transformed into steam or linked to the product during the production process."
Since 2018, Smurfit Kappa has been a signatory to the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate which implements strategies and policies to address the growing crisis in water and sanitation in many parts of the world.