Impacts of the pulp and paper sector on water

Making pulp and paper requires vast amounts of water. In fact, the pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in OECD countries.

Paper mills may also discharge many pollutants in surrounding water bodies, causing damage to aquatic ecosystems and threatening the health of people living near the mill.

While new technology has substantially reduced water emissions from many mills, there is significant variation around the world in the use of this technology and major polluting incidents still occur.

Water pollutants can include:

  • persistent toxic chlorine compounds like dioxins
  • organic materials that consume oxygen during decomposition
  • sulphur dioxide that contribute to lake acidification
  • air-polluting nitrogenous compounds and phosphates that boost algae growth
Find out more about the impacts of the pulp and paper industry on:

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