Why sustainable recycled fiber helps curb water use and reduce your climate change impact

According to the UN-Water Policy Brief on Climate Change and Water, climate change increases unpredictability in the water cycle, inducing extreme weather events, – such as droughts and wildfires – reducing the certainty of water availability and negatively impacting water quality while putting the biodiversity and sustainable development of our planet at great risk.

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The always-growing demand for water also increases the need for energy-intensive water pumping, transportation, and treatment. Consumers are often told to limit their own water usage in their homes. But to really move the needle on this massive issue, businesses need to be willing to make changes, too.

Sustana Fiber’s role in limiting water impact

Responsible and sustainable water usage is a major part of Sustana Fiber’s operational vision. We’ve worked hard to implement clean and environmentally sound technologies to minimize water usage in the manufacturing of recycled fiber and in fact, our facilities have low water usage, which we are committed to maintaining year over year.

Here are some tangible ways we’re making a difference:

  • Sustana Fiber’s 100% recycled EnviroLife® fiber is compliant with FDA standards for food-grade packaging, made from 100 percent recovered paper materials, and is a responsible choice for packaging suppliers because it uses nine times less water than non-recycled fiber to produce.
  • We keep water use top of mind and ensure that the wastewater treated, and by-products recycled in manufacturing, go into producing new products.
  • As stated in our third-party Life Cycle Assessment, our fiber has a comparatively lower impact than generic North America non-recycled fiber throughout its entire lifecycle, including throughout resource production and supply, resource transportation, and fiber manufacturing and waste treatment.
  • Water used throughout production is collected, cleaned and reused, and our recycling facility recirculates water for continued use. Solids are also removed from the water and repurposed in landfarming or animal bedding applications.
  • As part of our commitment to resource efficiency and conservation, any wastewater undergoes a treatment process to reduce Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) by over 80 percent before it is released back to water bodies.

Why limiting water impact is now an expectation

Earlier this year, a global investor coalition representing more than $11.4 trillion of assets urged six of the world’s largest fast food companies to take faster and deeper action to manage climate and water risks in their supply chains. However, the rate of response may not be at the pace required to match the magnitude of their environmental impacts.

But not all brands are falling behind. Simple changes to the supply chain are making all the difference.

Take Unilever. The packaged goods company has made substantial efforts to decrease water consumption within its manufacturing processes including: introducing over 68 zero liquid discharge sites where wastewater is treated and then reused on site – meaning virtually no water is discharged to the environment, integrating water-efficiency features into the core design of each new facility or factory upgrade and recycling their used water.

Another great example of business taking more sustainable actions is Starbucks, with their commitment to increase recycled content of their cups by 2022. The company recently partnered with Sustana Fiber in The Cup to Cup: Closing the Loop project – an innovative collaboration between Sustana Fiber, our supply chain partners, and Starbucks – which demonstrated that coffee cups can be recycled and turned into new cups in a sustainable way. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that every ton of paper recycled saves 7,000 gallons of water, meaning this project saved over 2 million gallons of water.

Using sustainable products in the supply chain is a gateway to reducing business’ water usage and impact on the environment.

As we look to 2021 goals, educate yourself and your employees on how you can take steps to fight climate change and reduce your company’s water environmental impact. By working with a supplier such as Sustana and using EnviroLife® fiber in your paper food packaging, you can limit the impact on climate change by 26 percent, compared to the average non-recycled fiber. As businesses switch to using a sustainable source of recycled content, we will together make a significant impact on the health of our planet.  


Download the Life Cycle Assessment