Smurfit Kappa has completed a two-phase upgrade of its Barranquilla Paper Mill in Colombia, involving an investment of $7.5 million (€6.6 million).
The project 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 part of the packaging firm’s ongoing commitment to good water stewardship by using water sustainably and supporting natural water ecosystems.
The Barranquilla Paper Mill produces containerboard from 100% recycled materials.
The upgraded facilities will allow the Barranquilla site to contribute towards the company’s sustainability targets that were expanded in January 2021.
Smurfit Kappa aims to further reduce water intake and improve water intensity and usage.
It includes the goal to reduce the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) of the water by 60% by 2025 and to reduce water intensity by 1% annually.
According to the company, COD at the plant will reduce by 80% as a direct result of this investment.
Juan G. Castaneda, CEO of Smurfit Kappa the Americas, added, "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."
The packaging giant reported a 15% increase in revenue in the first nine months of its financial year, to €7.29 billion.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
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.
The company will also invest in upgrading its facilities at the Barbosa and Cali paper plants.
Commenting on the 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."
In 2018, Smurfit Kappa signed 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.