Trends in World Bleached Chemical Pulp Production 1990-1997
Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) pulp, bleached with chlorine dioxide, continues to dominate the world bleached chemical pulp (BCP) market. In 1997, ECF production will be 38 million tonnes, totaling 50% of the world market share.
Market data show a widening gap between ECF and TCF (Totally Chlorine-Free) production. ECF continues to grow, with an additional 4 million tonnes entering the market in 1997. The growth of TCF remains steady at 6% of the world market. No production increase is expected for TCF in 1997.
Seeking high quality, cost-competitive pulps with a superior environmental track record, consumers have spurred the growth of ECF production. Conversely, the higher bleaching cost, lower quality at market brightness, and absence of additional environmental benefits are limiting the growth of TCF markets. Recent proceedings at the 1997 International Emerging Technologies Conference confirm the shortcomings of TCF:
While a small market for TCF still exists in Western Europe, the rest of the world continues to support the growth of ECF. ECF's product quality, coupled with its unrivaled environmental performance, has propelled production in 1997 to levels that for the first time will surpass all other bleaching processes.
* Other is pulp bleached with chlorine or a mixture of chlorine and chlorine dioxide.
In the Pacific rim -- a strong and vital newcomer in the international marketplace, demand for ECF continues to expand, as new mills, especially those planned for Indonesia, will enter the market as ECF mills . Total pulp production in Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand will grow to more than 6 million tonnes in 1997, with ECF production holding 44% of the market, versus TCF's projected one percent market share.
Environmental Performance and Eco-System Response
Numerous studies have recently examined the relative environmental quality of waste waters from mills operating with ECF and TCF bleaching processes. The London-based International Institute of Environment and Development examined this question and concluded:
"There is no appreciable environmental difference between TCF and ECF ."
Similar conclusions were reached in a joint report from the Swedish Forest Industry Water and Air Pollution Research Foundation (SSVL) and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency .
Support for ECF was further strengthened in July of 1996 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized ECF as the 'best available technology' for the pulp and paper Cluster Rule, expected to be promulgated by the end of 1997. In the Cluster Rule, the U.S. EPA has identified two options for bleached paper grade kraft and soda mills, both of which are based on ECF, or 100 percent substitution of chlorine dioxide for chlorine .
Beyond regulatory initiatives, ECF is gaining recognition with end-users who have high environmental standards and rely on top-quality paper. Influential publishers such as the U.S. magazine industry studied the environmental performance of both ECF and TCF, concluding that:
"... little research has been done on the effects of the chemicals in non-chlorine bleach systems that TCF proponents advocate. Therefore, forcing a transition to TCF systems at this time does not seem warranted or wise ."
The recovery of coastal fisheries in British Columbia are a documented example of the progress made by the pulp and paper industry after the implementation of chlorine dioxide. The Chlorinated Substances Action Plan: Progress Report, issued in October of 1996, states that:
"Contamination of fisheries by dioxin/furan releases in pulp mill effluents has stopped and significant environmental improvements achieved. Approximately 46 percent of commercial fisheries previously closed as a result of dioxin contamination in coastal British Columbia are now open again ."
The waterbodies of the United States also showcase this broader eco-system recovery. Since 1990, 13 states have lifted a total of 17 fish consumption advisories for dioxin downstream of pulp mills -- a decline of more than 50% .
Building on its previous success, the industry is advancing its pollution prevention goals further, by exploring the concept of the minimum-impact mill.
"The industry's environmental progress over the last 30 years, while maintaining economic viability, bodes well for the next 30 years and provides confidence that the minimum-impact mill of the future will be realized... ."
The vision of the minimum-impact mill is attracting increasing attention from industry experts, governing bodies, and interest groups and is viewed as the industry's next step. Minimum-impact mills will reduce water use, minimize raw materials, maximize energy production and produce high quality products while striving for aesthetic appeal. As research progresses, preliminary conclusions and operating experience show that ECF is compatible with -- and may become the cornerstone of -- the minimum-impact mill of the future.
1997 AET International Pulp Production Survey.
Pryke, D.C., and Reeve, D.W., "Substitution of Chlorine Dioxide for Chlorine in Canadian Bleached Chemical Pulp Mills," Bleaching Committee, Technical Section, CPPA, April 1996.
Appendix (All Data in Millions of Tonnes*)