Sappi's Cloquet Mill, a prominent player in the pulp and paper industry, has embarked on a journey towards sustainability that not only benefits the environment but also their local community. The mill, situated in Cloquet, Minnesota, operates with a deep sense of responsibility towards its environmental impact, particularly concerning wastewater management.
At the heart of their wastewater management system are two primary treatment clarifiers, diligently working to rid the effluent of solids before it continues its journey. The ultimate destination for this treated wastewater is the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD), a publicly owned treatment plant in Duluth, MN. Here, the effluent undergoes its final treatment, ensuring that it meets the required environmental standards. However, there's more to the story than just wastewater treatment; it's a tale of commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices.
Sappi's Cloquet Mill recognized a significant challenge - the need to reduce the amount of chemicals used for pH control in their wastewater treatment process. These chemicals, if not managed efficiently, could find their way into the local community's wastewater system. It was a challenge that demanded innovative thinking and a commitment to aligning their business strategy with global sustainability goals. In this endeavor, Sappi found a strong ally in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically, they connected with UN SDG 6, which emphasizes the sustainable management of water use and discharge. This alignment set the stage for a transformative project that would not only benefit the mill but also contribute positively to the environment and the community they serve.
The journey was not without its challenges, and it spanned several iterations over the years. Between 2015 and 2022, Sappi's Cloquet Mill diligently worked to fine-tune and perfect their approach to the wastewater management project. The culmination of these efforts was seen in 2022 when the third and final iteration of the project delivered remarkable results.
The project achieved an immediate and consistent reduction in Total Suspended Solids (TSS), marking a significant milestone. This reduction not only meant less wastewater substances but also translated into cost savings for the mill. Moreover, it led to a substantial decrease in the load sent to WLSSD, further easing the burden on the local treatment plant. One particularly noteworthy achievement was the significant decrease in Mercury sent to WLSSD, allowing the organization to maintain compliance and even target its mercury effluent limit for a record 10 consecutive months. It was a testament to the mill's unwavering commitment to sustainability and their ability to innovate effectively.
Sappi's journey towards sustainable wastewater management is an industry inspiration, reflecting their unwavering commitment to sustainability. As leaders in the pulp and paper sector, they prove that sustainable changes are both feasible and economically sound. Recognized as a platinum winner in the 2023 TITAN Business Awards for Business Development - Sustainability & Environment, their story serves as a beacon of hope. It demonstrates that with investments and a dedicated focus on innovation, entities within the industry can achieve impressive results while making a positive impact on the environment and their communities.
Entrant Company: Sappi North America
Winning Category: Business Development - Sustainability & Environment