Because every drop counts

Posted by Ken Wheeler on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 @ 7:38 PM

Cascades Containerboard Packaging – Lithotech (a Division of Cascades) takes pride that every day, Cascades is hard at work employing strategies to minimize pollution and promote the sustainable use of resources in an effort to mitigate climate change and protect the environment, biodiversity and natural habitats. Actions are carried out on several fronts: raw materials and waste recovery, energy and greenhouse gases, water and transportation.

Because every drop of water counts

At Cascades, every drop of water is reused between 10 and 40 times before being sent into the treatment system. The company is also greatly concerned about the quality of effluents, which it regulates closely.

The production of pulp, paper and cardboard requires large quantities of water, which are indispensable to the manufacturing process. This water is mixed with the raw materials (virgin or recycled fibres), and is present in all stages of manufacturing. By the end of the process, the water is charged with minerals and organic matter, and cannot be reused without treatment. To reduce the impact on aquatic ecosystems (e.g. eutrophication), it must be treated before it can be returned to the environment. The quality of waste water is regulated by strict standards, and any breach of these rules can result in significant financial consequences. In the paper sector, two key parameters are used to measure water quality: five-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD 5), and total suspended solids (TSS). The BOD measures the amount of oxygen used for the degradation of organic matter in the water. The higher the BOD, the more polluted the water. Suspended solids are fine, insoluble mineral or organic materials, visible to the naked eye, that render the water turbid and prevent the passage of light.

Over the past 25 years, the paper industry has vastly improved the quality of its effluents. The BOD has been reduced by more than 90%, and the TSS by over 70%. Cascades has followed this trend. (Forest Products Association of Canada [FPAC])


At Cascades, 18 of our 27 paper mills possess their own water treatment systems. The water from the remaining mills is treated by municipal water treatment plants. Water treatment is required mainly to reduce the suspended materials and the biochemical oxygen demand.


As pulp leaves the pulper, it consists of 99% water and 1% fibre. In other words, paper mills consume large amounts of water. Over the past 15 years, biological treatment systems installed in the plants have eliminated dioxins from the effluents, rendering them non-toxic. With the improved quality of effluents, Cascades, along with other paper mills that are members of Forest Products Association of Canada, is now concentrating on reducing its water consumption.


When it comes to water consumption, Cascades has an undeniable advantage because of the composition of its products. Manufacturing recycled paper requires much less water than does the production of virgin paper.


Cascades recycles the process water at practically every step of the way, which is why its water consumption is so low. Every drop of water is reused between 10 and 40 times before being sent into the treatment system.

On average, the quality of the waste water returned to the environment is seven to nine times better than the required standard.

Source:  Cascades,

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