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Case Study - Waste

60% less sludge sent to landfill in Monterrey, Mexico

In an important industrial region in the northeast of Mexico, at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental, Smurfit Kappa operates a mill near the city of Monterrey. Monterrey is considered one of the most developed cities in the entire country. Rapid industrial development places even more focus on environmental issues and Smurfit Kappa is keen to continually look for ways to improve and contribute positively to the environment surrounding the operations.

Ricardo García, General Manager of the mill, explains how the mill has recently improved its waste streams: ‘It all began with the actual environmental situation, which inspired us to further reduce landfill waste. We made it a top priority, and committed ourselves to look for a more efficient way to handle our waste. In our case the waste consists mainly of sludge, so we looked into new ways to improve our forming section and implement a drainage and retention system.’

‘We found out that the primary sludge generated in our waste water treatment facilities could also be used in the production process without compromising our efficiency. We allocated resources that enabled us to use chemicals in a more efficient way, to implement a drainage system with formation wire, start data collection for analysis, and devote development time. We invested three months in research and planning, and another three months in implementing the new set-up.’

What were the biggest bottlenecks of the project? Ricardo: ‘We started the optimisation by testing the sludge from the flotation tank. Looking back, the hardest part was finding the delicate equilibrium that allowed us to incorporate this sludge in our system without reducing our machine efficiency. To recover all the sludge from our water treatment plant we had to make an inversion in our pipe lines, and we reconfigured our equipment. The sludge now goes directly to the hydrapulper. Our perseverance paid off and we managed a reduction of 60% in sludge waste sent to landfill.’