What if the goal of "zero waste" wasn’t just for people? A huge Brazilian company has embarked on the adventure.
We’re focusing on the long-term and "zero waste"
If you still believe the circular economy is an ideal rather than a reality, more theory than practice, go to Três Lagoas, a micro-region in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil. Fibria, the world’s largest manufacturer of eucalyptus pulp - used in paper-making - joined forces with Veolia in 2011 with the aim of converting and recovering its mineral waste. Four years later, the results are really exciting.
Birth of a virtuous circle
Fibria produces cellulose from its own eucalyptus plantations to manufacture pulp. The operation is perfectly managed because Brazil enjoys optimal geographical conditions. The eucalyptus growth cycle there is almost three times faster than for example pine production in northern Europe - not to mention the very strict regulations. Nevertheless, a colossal amount of waste is generated by the cellulose industry, which, at great expense, has to be taken to landfills. This is where Veolia comes in. The organic waste (the residual sludge) is converted into a new product, a soil acidity corrector, which is then used on Fibria’s forest plantations.
And the circle closes
As the waste is recycled, transport, storage and incineration are no longer necessary – thus reducing Fibria’s environmental impact. Used to correct soil acidity, it is less expensive than the usual limestone. So much is produced that Fibria can’t use it all - hence the idea of benefiting other plantations, which thereby increases recycling in this huge enterprise and creates additional jobs for the region:
- 49 at the site of Jacareí (São Paulo State), which includes logistics and development of soil acidity.
- 16 for the site Três Lagoas, which also includes the development activity of the acidity of soils.
It has been so successful that Fibria has set high objectives: a 91.5% reduction in cellulose production waste storage by 2025! And as Paulo Gaia, DG of the Jacarei plant says, "We are focusing on (...) "zero waste”. Do you still believe it’s just a utopian dream?
Main picture: Veolia – agency ZUT