Application of wastewater treatment systems to minimize the water consumption of a pulp mill located in the Rio Doce basin (WatMin 2018-2021).

Luewton Agostinho, Ronaldo Novaes Ferreira, Water Technology group NHL Stenden.


The WatMin project combined a technical approach with a social science background to assess the implementation of new technologies in the pulp and paper industry. This industry is a major consumer of fresh water and energy resources, resulting in a large environmental footprint. Studies show that reducing environmental impacts by increasing water and energy efficiency in the pulp production process is essential for companies in the sector to remain competitive and sustainable.


Another aggravating aspect analyzed was a mining disaster that occurred in 2015, which resulted in an urgent need to reduce water use. This disaster severely affected the quality of the Rio Doce, the plant's main freshwater resource.


The WatMin project aimed to answer two main research questions:

The first concerns the technical, economic, and environmental benefits, risks, and impacts of implementing UF systems in three different scenarios.

The second research question concerns the favorability of governance conditions in the pulp and paper industry towards the implementation of new technology.


The project was unique as it was a collaboration between Dutch and Brazilian companies and universities using a HBO format and it covered a very important topic linked to the big River Doce basin disaster. However, it also brought some challenges, mainly because it was conducted, in its good part, during the COVID19 crisis.



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