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Innovations in papermaking: An LCA of printing and writing paper from conventional and high yield pulp

Manda, B.M. Krishna, Blok, Kornelis, Patel, Martin K.
The Science of the total environment 2012 v.439 pp. 307-320
greenhouse gases, life cycle assessment, new products, fossil fuels, chemithermomechanical pulping, energy, ecotoxicology, coatings, energy use and consumption, kraft pulp, models, titanium dioxide, materials life cycle, kraft paper, emissions, toxicity, papermaking, wood, pulp and paper industry, environmental impact, nanoparticles
Pulp and paper industry is facing challenges such as resource scarcity and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The objective of this research is to investigate whether the use of new coatings (micro or nano TiO₂) and different pulp types could bring savings in wood, energy, GHG emissions and other environmental impacts in comparison with conventional printing and writing paper. We studied three types of pulp, namely i) unbleached virgin kraft pulp, ii) recovered fiber, and iii) high yield virgin chemithermo-mechanical pulp (CTMP). A life cycle assessment (LCA) was conducted from cradle to grave. Applying attributional modeling, we found that wood savings amount to 60% for the nanoparticle coated recovered fiber paper and 35% for the micro TiO₂ coated CTMP paper. According to the ReCiPe single score impact assessment method, the new product configurations allow the reduction of the environmental impacts by 10–35% compared to conventional kraft paper. Applying consequential modeling, we found larger energy and GHG emission savings compared to attributional modeling because the saved wood is used for producing energy, thereby replacing fossil fuels. The nanoparticle coated recovered fiber paper offered savings of non-renewable energy use (NREU) by 100% (13GJ/ton paper) and GHG emission reduction by 75% (0.6tonCO₂eq./ton paper). Micro TiO₂ coated CTMP paper offered NREU savings by 25% (3GJ/ton paper) and savings of GHG emissions by 10% (0.1tonCO₂eq./ton paper). The taking into account of all environmental impacts with the ReCiPe single score method leads to comparable results as that of attributional modeling. We conclude that the nanoparticle coated recovered fiber paper offered the highest savings and lowest environmental impacts. However, human toxicity and ecotoxicity impacts of the nanoparticles were not included in this analysis and need further research. If this leads to the conclusion that the toxicity impacts of the nanoparticles are serious, then the CTMP paper with micro TiO₂ coating is the preferred option.