Less is More for Everyone

Water is plentiful in Kingsport, Tennessee, where three major forks of the Holston River come together. There’s so much water, you might not realize how much it matters to use less of it.

But employees at the Kingsport Mill have focused particularly on water conservation and reducing fiber and caustic losses to the sewer.

The numbers show their success: The mill has reduced water use and total suspended solids (TSS) losses to the sewer by 19% and 24%, respectively, since 2010.

“We were already the best in Domtar for the metric of water use per ton of paper produced,” said Anthony Robinson, the mill’s EHS manager. “But we believed we could do better.”

With rigorous attention to monitoring and maintenance, the team at Kingsport moved the needle even further last year. The mill aimed to decrease water use to 5,557 gallons per ton of paper produced. Actual 2014 result: the team went even further, reducing water use to 5,523 gallons per ton.

The mill also targeted a lower fiber/solids to sewer rate of 23 tons per day and exceeded its goal, knocking the number down to 19.2 tons per day.

“It wasn’t one big capital project,” noted Anthony, “but it came back to keeping a close eye on how we manage our tanks and our discharges, looking each day and week to see where we were doing well and where we weren’t.

“We believe a key for us is that we’re not looking at compliance, we’re looking at performance, and how we can make it better.”