The Impacts Of Industry Developments Environmental Sciences

Essay add: 9-01-2017, 14:16   /   Views: 2

During the past decades, some developed countries such as UK has experienced serious environmental pollution along with the development of industry. And this condition still exists in many developing countries. The development of industry has strongly facilitated our lives. But at the same time, it also has brought a lot of risks to the environment. Water pollution, air pollution and land pollution are not only threatening human's health, but also the existence of the earth. Environmental pollution has captured a lot of attention from the society, especially in recent years. And many measures have been taken into practice, including policy, lows and technique methods to control pollution. Environmental permitting is an important part of the whole environmental protection system. And since its establishment, pollution from industry has been effectively controlled. Environmental permitting system ordains the rules and standard for the activities, which may have negative effects to the environment. And manufactory cannot produce without an environmental permit. To get an environmental permit, company or manufactory should improve their productive processes, facilities, management system and etc to achieve the demand for getting an environmental permit. To meet the requirement of the rules, some techniques are needed such as environmental risk assessment, life cycle assessment, environmental management systems and energy management, which are helpful to control and reduce environmental impacts of activities. In this essay, the question how each of these techniques affects the processes of getting an environmental permit will be discussed critically, and referenced to the requirements for an environmental Permit of a pulp and paper manufacturing site.

Overview of environmental permitting process

Environmental permitting regulations in England and Wales were established on April 6th, which are the replacement of 2007 regulations. The establishment of these regulations is to "achieve a high level of protection of the environment taken as a whole by, in particular, preventing or, where that is not practicable, reducing emissions into the air, water and land" (EPR Schedule 7 Part 3, 2010). They combined Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) and Waste Management Licensing (WML) regulations, and the range has been widen to involve in water discharge and ground water activities, radioactive substances and provision for a number of directives such as Mining Waste Directive. The permits set restrictions on those activities to control the emissions to air, water and land, radioactive material, management of radioactive and non-radioactive waste. And the rules for control these activities based on working together with some other organizations, including Natural England/Countryside Council for Wales, local Authorities, food standards agency, health and safety executive, water UK, health protection agency and etc (EA, 2010).

To apply an environmental permit, the operators should firstly make sense what are they proposing to do and what are the activities? And then check whether the site can meet the rules, paying the charge, planning permission and technical competence for waste, as well as site report. The types of environmental permit are divided into standard permit and bespoke permit. For instance, when apply for a new standard environmental permit, the applicants should firstly fill in Part A of the application form, which is a collection of the applicant's information, including the type of applicants (individual, organization, public bodies, companies and etc.), the types of activities, contact address and etc. Then, the next step is fill in part F, which is divided into part F1 (applying for an installation, waste operation, mining waste operation or groundwater activity) and Part F2 (applying for a standalone point source water discharge). The contents of this part include the calculation of charges, opra scores, Payment, the Data Protection Act 1998, confidentiality and national security, declaration, application checklist and etc. Finishing part B is the next step of the application, which includes the information about permit, the site, the application, general information, planning status, applicant's ability as an operator and etc (EA, 2010).

Overview of pulp and paper industry

It is known that paper was made by the a Chinese named Cai Lun in the second century, which is made from tree bark, fish netting, straw and etc. After 500 years, the method of papermaking was spread to Japan, and spread to Islamic world at the end of the eighth century A.D. Then the technique of papermaking was transferred to westward, and it is known that the first paper factory in Europe was built in Jativa, which located in the province of Valencia in 1150 (China View, 2006). Along with the development of industry, papermaking method has improved rapidly from small mill with hand methods to big scale modern factory with automatic methods. And the source of making paper also has become more and more diverse, including cloth rags, cellulose fibers from plants, trees and etc. There is a good relationship between the quality of paper and the source. For instance, cloth is often used to make high-quality paper. Furthermore, to get high-quality paper to meet different use, various chemical materials are often added to the productive processes, such as brightener and softener, which can contribute to the pollution of pulp and paper industry.

The basic principle of making paper is simple, which can be seen as the processes of making mixed source to pulp and forming it to paper. And the environmental problems arise during the productive processes can be divided into material consumption, waste production and energy consumption. In terms of material consumption, as I have mentioned, the main sources for papermaking are cloth rags, cellulose fibers from plants. And in order to get high-quality paper, trees are widely used in pulp and paper industry, which has result in the reduction of forest. To solve this problem, paper companies are encouraged to plant trees to make up for their consumption, and many paper companies have claimed that the number of trees they have planted is the same as they have consumed. However, it was also pointed out that the growth of trees should be a long period, and new and young trees cannot instead the function of old trees. To deduce the usage of trees in pulp and paper industry, paper companies are encouraged to use recycled paper. But it was demonstrated that recycled paper only can be used for 7 times, because the fiber of recycled paper will become too short to use.

In terms of the waste come from pulp and paper industry, the discharge of waste water should be the most significant aspect. In order to get high-quality paper and meet specific demands, various chemical materials are tend to be used in the productive processes, including dyes, inks, bleach, sizing and etc, which will accumulate in the waste water. The direct discharge of the waste water has been forbid uncompromisingly. And the solution of this problem depends upon the construction of water treatment plant, which can remove these harmful materials form waste water before discharged to water bodies.

Energy use is also an important environmental aspect of pulp and paper industry. Electricity can be seen as green energy, and is widely used in modern pulp and paper industry. Energy is used in most of the productive processes, including conveying chips, digester, washing and screening, oxygen delignification, bleaching, pump machine and etc (Francis, 2002). The amount of steam and electricity used in a modern kraft market pulp mill can be seen from table 1 below.


The reduction of energy use in pulp and paper industry depends upon an energy conservation program. There is a big potential for the reduction of energy use in pulp and paper industry. It was demonstrated that a model kraft mill can be operated by 9.9 GJ/ADt process steam, 1.2GJ/ADt process fossil fuel and 578kWh/ADt process electricity. And the energy from burning the spent pulping liquor can meet the demands of process steam and electricity. As a result, only 1.2 GJ/ADt of fossil fuel is needed for the lime kiln (Francis, 2002).

Environmental risk assessment

Risk assessment is defined as "the formal process of identifying, assessing and evaluating the risks to health and the environment that may be posed by the condition of a site. If contamination is present, a risk assessment helps you decide whether it is a problem" (Environmental Agency, 2011). According to the rules of environmental permitting from environmental agency of the UK, this work is not necessary to apply for a standard environmental permit. But it is needed for applying for a bespoke permit. When apply for a bespoke environmental permit under environmental permitting regulations, H1 risk assessment guidance is needed to access health risks and environmental risks of their activities. To identify which type of environmental permit is suitable for pulp and paper industry, we should firstly check whether it can meet the demand of applying for a standard permit, which includes the rules for waste discharge, installations, technical competence and etc. Consider about the characters of pulp and paper industry, it can't meet the demands of standard rules. Therefore, environmental risk assessment is needed for pulp and paper industry to apply for a bespoke environmental permit.

It was demonstrated that only the risks which associated with the activities need to be taken into account in environmental risk assessment (Environment Agency, 2010). Therefore, the activities contained in pulp and paper industry should be firstly identified. According to the overview of pulp and paper industry in previous contents, the processes of pulp and paper industry can be simply divided into wood chipping, pulping and paper making. And various activities are contained in the processes, such as using chemical material, energy consumption, raw materials consumption, waste water discharge, emission, landfill and etc. The general steps of environmental risk assessment introduced in the horizontal guidance note H1, published by environmental agency include identifying risks, assessing risks, justifying appropriate measures and presenting assessment (Environmental agency, 2011).

First of all, various emissions come from pulping process can bring risk to the air. For instance, in kraft pulping process, various chemical materials are added to the source, and the chemical reaction, heating and steaming contribute to the malodorous emission, including hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide and etc. what's more, it was calculated that other typical generation include:"particulate matter, 75-150 kg/t; sulfur oxides, 0.5-30 kg/t; nitrogen oxides, 1-3 kg/t; and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 15 kg/t from black liquor oxidation" (World bank group, 1998). Secondly, discharging of waste water from pulp and paper industry is a significant risk to receiving water bodies, especially surface water. Pulp and paper industry demand a huge amount of water resource, and waste water are mainly come from pulping process. Waste water by using sulfite pulping method is called black liquid, which contains lignin, pentosan and total alkali. And the characters of this kind of waste water are high-concentration and hard-degradation. Furthermore, according to World Bank Group, "Wastewater from chemical pulping contains 12-20 kg of BOD/t of ADP, with values of up to 350 kg/t. The corresponding values for mechanical pulping wastewater are 15-25 kg BOD/t of ADP. For chemimechanical pulping, BOD discharges are 3 to 10 times higher than those for mechanical pulping (World Bank Group, 1998)." In addition, waste water come from bleaching process is also a significant pollutant which contains chlorine substance such as chloroform, and one of the most serious carcinogen- dioxin. Furthermore, waste wood, paper, bark and other kinds of waste materials can bring risk to site waste. And the burning of fuel and the consumption of electricity in pulp and paper industry are also risks to climate change.

The next step after identifying risks and assessing risks is justifying appropriate measures. In order to get an environmental permit, the applicant should show to the environmental staffs that these risks have been controlled appropriately. The available measures are diverse. In terms of pulp and paper industry, the measures for control the risk to the environment include process modifications, recycle wastewater, using dry instead of wet debarking, using a low-odor design black liquor recovery furnace, reducing the lignin content in the pulp, use TCF or at a minimum, ECF bleaching systems and etc. However, to make a best choice, the consideration should also involve in the environmental performance of the measures, cost-benefit analysis, as well as how to trade-off different environmental impacts. To conclude, a nice work of environmental risk assessment should be particular useful for the applicant to find out and solve environmental problems of their activities and contribute to getting environmental permit.

Life cycle assessment

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to assess all the environmental impacts of a product during its life from raw material, through production, transport, reshape, package, deliver, using, disposal and etc.LCA can contribute to making a comprehensive outlook of a product by the analysis of material and energy input and output, as well as the potential environmental impacts (Gilliland, 1978). According to ISO 14044, there are four main phases contained in LCA, including goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation. LCA can make us clear about every phase of a product, and the environmental impact in every phase can also be identified and assessed. Furthermore, to improve the environmental performance of a product, the basic considerations include using less material, using materials with less environmental impact, using fewer resources, producing less pollution and waste, reducing the impacts of distribution, optimizing functionality and service life, making re-use and recycling easier and reducing the environmental impact of disposal. To achieve these objectives, some specific measures should be associated with each problem, including policy, law, technique, management and etc.

In terms of pulp and paper industry, life cycle assessment of paper is also essential. The stages and related processes of paper can be seen in table 2. More specifically, air emission is significant in paper production stage, including non-renewable CO2 and SO2, and the consumption of non-renewable energy such as fuel, the consumption of electricity form national grid can contribute to global warming, acidification and the depletion of nature resource. Waste water discharge in pulp production is an essential environmental problem, including water emission such as COD and AOX and eutrophication. The renewable energy consumption in this stage is also significant. In addition, NOX and CO2 emission and fuel consumption in paper distribution stage is also remarkable, which can contribute to global warming, acidification and eutrophication. Finally, in disposal stage, the emission of CH4 from waste paper landfill can strongly contribute to the formation of photochemical oxidant. To sum up, the production stage of pulp and paper industry has the most important impacts to the environment, while the effects of paper distribution are slighter. And the forest stage has a little impact to the environment during paper life cycle. Life cycle assessment of paper shows the significant impacts of the processes to the environment, which can help paper companies improve their environmental performance by improving productive processes, waste recycling, waste treatment, and etc (Dias, 2007).

It is obvious that life cycle assessment is particular useful for pulp and paper companies to have a comprehensive outlook to their products and improve their environmental performance by control the environmental impacts in each stage. LCA is not compulsive for the applicant to apply for an environmental permit, but the conduct of LCA can significantly contribute to getting environmental permit by the improvement of environmental performance.

Table2: main stages in printing and writing paper life cycle (Dias, 2007)






Globulus forest

Pine forest

Paper distribution

Transport of paper

Transport of paper

Pulp production

globulus pulp production

Pine pulp production

Chemical production (NaOH, CaCO3, H2SO4, NaClO3, S2, NaCl, H2O2)

Fuel production (heavy fuel oil)

Energy production in the grid

Transport of wood to the pulp mills

Transport of chemicals




Graphic paper production (from wastepaper)

Packaging paper production (from wastepaper)

Tissue production (from wastepaper)

Packaging paper production (from virgin fibre, to avoid allocation)

Tissue production (from virgin fibre, to avoid allocation)

Chemical production (NaOH, H2SO4, NaClO3, H2O2)

Fuel production (heavy fuel oil, natural gas, lignite)

Energy production in the grid

Transport of wastepaper from the user to the

several disposal alternatives

Paper production

Printing and writing paper production

Chemical production (PCC, CaO, CaCO3, CO2, optical brightener, starch)

Fuel production (heavy fuel oil)

Energy production in the grid

Transport of pine pulp to the paper mill

Transport of chemicals and fuel

Environmental management systems

Environmental management system (EMS) is a comprehensive and systematic system, which refers to an organization's environmental protection program, including the structure, planning, measures, equipments and policy. It is a good method to improve an organization's environmental performance by a systematic way. The general steps of EMS include developing an environmental policy, planning the EMS, implementing it and checking the system. EMS is also a continual system, which is continually checked and improved by an organization to keep the effectiveness (Gastl, 2009). According to Melnyk (2003), "ISO 14001's developers recognized the critical role an EMS plays in any firm's attempts to reach the goals of improved environmental and corporate performance", which means that EMS is essential for environmental management of a company to achieve advantages, and met ISO 14001 certification standards. In addition, the basic elements of an EMS set by ISO standard can enable management to establish environmental policy, access the effectiveness of the policy, identify the legislative requirement ad environmental aspects, establish a program to implement the policy, develop management and employee commitment to environmental protection, establish a process to review EMS and etc. however, it was also demonstrated that "the ISO 14001 EMS standards are process, not performance standards"(Melnyk, 2003), which means that it doesn't set a compulsive standard level, which should be achieved for a company. But it introduces a system to help a company develop better environmental management, improve its environmental performance and achieving its own environmental targets, thus contribute to getting environmental permit.

It was demonstrated by Sayre (1996) that "The purpose of an EMS is to develop, implement, manage, coordinate and monitor corporate environmental activities to achieve two goals: compliance and waste reduction". In terms of a company, compliance means reaching the standard level of acceptable pollution to avoid punishment. And waste reduction focus upon its activities and seek to minimize its environmental impacts. In terms of a pulp and paper company, as one of the most contaminative industry, its environmental problems are diverse such as air emission and waste discharge. Pulp and paper industry needs to identify, monitor and solve these problems constantly. And EMS should be a great tool to achieve this objective, thus help a pulp and paper company to improve its environmental performance.

Energy management

Energy consuming can be associated with many environmental problems. For instance, the burning of fossil fuel and coal can contribute to harmful emissions such as CO2 and SO2. Electricity can be seen as a kind of clean energy, and using electricity only has a little impact to the environment. But a great part of the electric power in electricity grid comes from thermal power plant, which is mainly operated by coal. So the consumption of electric power has indirect impact to the environment. Energy management is a process to help an organization improve the efficiency of energy use, and thus reduce energy consumption. As I have mentioned, energy use is an important environmental aspect of pulp and paper industry. And energy is needed in many productive processes such as conveying chips, digester, washing and screening, oxygen delignification, bleaching, pump machine and etc. Consider about the negative impact of energy consumption, it is urgent to conduct energy management in pulp and paper industry.

The general steps of energy management include making commitment, assessing performance, setting goals, creating action plan, implementing action plan, evaluating progress and recognizing achievements. The process can be seen on the flow chart below (energy star, 2011).

Make commitment

Access performance

&set goals


Create action plan

Recognize achievements

Implement action plan

Evaluate process

As can be seen, such an energy management is a scientific framework for a pulp and paper company to reduce energy consumption step by step, and improve the energy-saving plan constantly. In addition, creating action plan is a pivotal step in energy management frame, which include some specific method for reducing energy consumption, such as using new energy resource, and using energy-saving productive processes. However, the applying of these methods usually depends on the improvement of equipments, and cost much money, which should also be taken into account. To sum up, implementing energy management in manufactories has significant effect to reduce the environmental impact caused by consuming energy. Obviously, it is an advantage for the application of environmental permit.


The purpose of environmental permitting system is to minimize the environmental impact of an organization by limit its activities according to related rules. Environmental permitting system can also encourage the companies and individuals identifying, accessing and solving the potential environmental problems by self-consciousness. And in recent decades, the establishment of this system has strongly promoted the solutions of some environmental problems, especially industrial pollution, such as air emission and waste discharge.

In addition, as can be seen, regardless whether it is compulsive, the four techniques (environmental risk assessment, life cycle assessment, environmental management systems and energy management) can significantly help a company improve its environmental performance, such as energy-saving and waste reducing. Environmental risk assessment is a tool to identify, access and evaluate the risk to health and environment; Life cycle assessment is a comprehensive outlook of a product' whole life; environmental management system is a tool to develop an organization's environmental protection program; Energy management is a good way to make best use of energy and reduce the consumption. As one of the most contaminative industries, pulp and paper industry has a lot environmental problems. And the conduct of these four techniques will contribute to the control and solution of these problems, which is also quite useful for a pulp and paper company to get an environmental permit.

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