Innovative technology strengthens the circularity of the production process in the pulp and paper industry
São Paulo, September 2, 2022 - Potassium, one of the main ingredients used to produce fertilizers, began to be produced at Klabin's Puma Unit in Ortigueira, Paraná. This is one more initiative by the company to seek innovative solutions as it reaffirms its commitment to sustainability and to promoting circularity. Klabin thus becomes the world’s first company in the pulp and paper industry to produce the input.
Potassium sulfate will be extracted by treating the ash generated in the recovery boiler using an innovative process. “The ash is treated to remove potassium and other elements, which are harmful to the operation of the boilers. With the standard technology, these elements were removed and sent to the factory's effluent treatment process, but with the new technology, we will recover this potassium in the form of crystallized potassium sulfate. We thus have a new product that is essential for producing fertilizers and manure,” explains João Braga, Director of Projects and Engineering at Klabin. Using this system, Klabin expects to produce around 22 tons of potassium sulfate per day.
The process will enable the company to directly use or sell potassium sulfate in bulk to the fertilizer production market. This innovation will also help it reduce the dependence on imports of this input. According to Brazilian government data, the country currently imports 96.5% of the potassium used for soil fertilization, half of which comes from countries such as Russia and Belarus.
Brazil being a major global producer of pulp from planted forests, the benefits of this new process become evident. “It is an important investment by Klabin in sustainability, which uses byproducts generated by the pulp and paper production chain. With this project, we are showing a new way to obtain potassium, thus helping to reduce its import. This first integrated unit already makes Klabin self-sufficient in this input,” says Francisco Razzolini, Director of Industrial Technology, Innovation, Sustainability and Projects at Klabin.
The company is thus increasingly aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda. Among the commitments undertaken by the Company through the KODS (Klabin Sustainable Development Goals) is the maximum optimization of resources such that waste generates value when returned to production systems. Moreover, the implementation of this potassium sulfate extraction system meets the goals of a Renewable Future and a Sustainable and Circular Economy.