Lignocellulosic carbon flow analysis of the South African paper industry.
Chikore, Nigel Tafadzwa.
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This research study is one of five studies undertaken by the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) to optimize the use of fibrous raw materials across the life-cycle phases of harvested wood products. This research study involved conducting a Material Flow Analysis (MFA) of the papermaking production process. The aim was to track the flow of lignocellulosic carbon (LCC) through the South African paper mills based on data from 2011. The results of this MFA study were envisaged to compliment similar studies of LCC flows conducted in South Africa on the other stages of the value chain (such as forestry, pulp mills and disposal) which were not considered in this study. In addition, the material flows presented in this study, provide quantitative data through which a framework can be developed to optimize the usage of fibrous raw materials across all paper mills in South Africa. The relevant papermaking raw materials were identified and classified into fibrous and nonfibrous materials. All paper grades produced in South Africa were classified into three categories; namely graphic paper, tissue paper and paperboard. The paper machines weredefined according to the paper grade produced on each machine. The materials flow data required for this MFA was collected through interviews (conducted with paper mills personnel during paper mill visits), questionnaire surveys and statistical data from published annual production reports. Assumptions (based on available literature and knowledge provided by paper mills personnel) were used to supplement the production data where necessary. Two software packages namely Microsoft Excel and STAN were used in the modelling and visual presentation of material flows across all paper mills in South Africa. The results show that the total mass of LCC flows through the South African paper industry in 2011 were estimated at 1 010 ± 6.01 kt. Virgin fibre pulp contributed the largest share (63.3 %) of the total input LCC flows into the industry compared to recovered paper (36.7 %). The largest LCC sink across all paper mills in South Africa in 2011 was determined to be paper (94.8 ± 0.9 %); the balance (5.2 ± 0.3 %) went to waste. The production of tissue paper (dry mass basis) in 2011 resulted in highest mass of LCC diverted to waste. For every tonne of dry mass tissue paper produced in 2011, 6.9 kg of LCC was diverted to waste; while, on average, for every tonne of dry mass paper produced in 2011, 2.7 kg of LCC was diverted to waste. Three scenarios were developed based on market-related changes that have happened, or are likely to happen, in the South African paper industry. The production of tissue paper from only virgin fibre (whilst keeping the production of all paper categories constant) would result in a decrease of the LCC diverted to waste by 14.3 % (i.e. from 62.3 kt to 53.4 kt) across all paper mills in South Africa. The production of paperboard from only recovered paper (whilst keeping the production of all paper categories constant) would result in an increase of the LCC that goes to waste by 41.7 % (i.e. from 62.3 kt to 88.2 kt) across all paper mills in South Africa. The shutting down of a newsprint machine coupled with the diversion of the old newspapers and magazines to replace virgin fibre in the production of tissue paper (whilst keeping the production of other paper categories constant) would result in a decrease of the LCC diverted to waste by 18.2 % (i.e. from 62.3 kt to 51.0 kt) across all paper mills in South Africa. However, it is important to note that the results and conclusions made from this MFA study need to be taken in fuller context i.e. in combination with similar studies of LCC material flows at other stages of the value chain (e.g. fibre production, usage and disposal of paper) in order for holistic conclusions to be drawn.