B.C. pulp mills are leaders in Canada at reducing contaminants in liquid effluent discharges. Since the late 1980?s there has been a marked reduction in discharges of environmental contaminants from the pulp and paper industry. This has come about through a combination of government regulation and research, industrial research, planning and investment, and shifting consumer demand. As a result, some British Columbia rivers and coastal areas that were once polluted by pulp mills are now clearly in the process of recovery.
The use of chlorine for pulp bleaching produces hazardous chemical by-products, such as dioxins and furans (which are members of the organic chlorine family AOX, or adsorbable organic halogen). Demand by international consumers for totally chlorine free (TCF) paper products is helping to push the mills to make process changes which will eliminate the dioxin, furan and AOX problem.
A dramatic improvement in discharge has already been achieved and continued improvements are expected as new technology becomes less expensive. Improved technology is also paving the way for mills to move to full recycling of chemicals and zero discharge of liquid effluents.
This document provides a review of the current status and projects effects of pulp mill liquid waste discharges on the environment in British Columbia. Emphasis is placed on recent trends in liquid effluent contaminant discharges, and resulting environmental responses.
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. 1994. B.C.'s Pulp Mills: Effluent Status Report