Paper manufacturing efficient design and resource use

Paper manufacturer water use responsibilities


The paper industry uses large volumes of water in the production process, for example as a fibre carrier and solvent. You should reuse water within your process wherever possible.

Check if you need an abstraction or impoundment licence

If you take (abstract) water from surface waters or groundwater you may need to get an abstraction licence from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

If you store (impound) water, for example to create a reservoir, you may need an impoundment licence from the NIEA - see water use authorisations for paper and cardboard producers.

Good practice for saving water

You could save up to 30 per cent of your business' water costs, and help to preserve water resources and protect the water environment, by taking simple low cost steps to cut your water use.

You have to pay for the water you use, and also for:

  • disposal of your wastewater, either as a percentage of the amount of water you use or by the strength of your effluent
  • losses due to leaks and wasteful appliances
  • energy you use to heat or cool water
  • staff time spent wasting water, for example excessive washing down
  • pumping, storing and additional treatment costs
  • materials or products lost in wastewater
  • meter size charges

Monitor your water use to help you use water more efficiently. Install water meters and read them regularly. This will help you to identify areas where you can save water, and will help you to spot leaks quickly. A sudden or unexplained increase in water use can indicate a leak.

Set challenging targets to reduce water use - for example by 10 per cent in a year. This will help motivate you and your staff to make these savings.

You can take steps to save water, from using low cost equipment to changing how you use water. For example:

  • Reduce your water costs by reusing water, eg for cleaning. This will reduce the amount of fresh water and chemicals you use and the quantity of effluent you produce.
  • Reuse water by cleaning effluent with ultra-filtration or other methods.
  • Control water consumption by using vacuum, scraping and mopping techniques rather than washing down. If you wash down, use hoses with spray gun attachments.
  • When you cannot recycle wastewater any further, you should treat it in a wastewater treatment plant before you discharge it.

When using these water saving methods, you must make sure that your water discharges continue to meet the conditions of your discharge authorisation. Reducing your water use can increase the concentration of your discharges - see wastewater treatment responsibilities for paper and cardboard producers.

For more water saving tips, see how to save water at industrial premises.