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How we handle water responsibly

22 March is World Water Day. We are using this day as an opportunity to shed light on the role that water plays in our work. For across all sites, our employees help to ensure that this precious resource is handled responsibly. 
Sustainability and handling our resources responsibly is part of Progroup’s philosophy as a company. Wherever possible, we choose technologies that can be used repeatedly, prevent emissions and save energy – and this is also the case in handling water.

To mark World Water Day 2023, we spoke to a number of our colleagues to answer the question, “And what does your work have to do with water?”

Madlen Bollinger

Junior Sustainability Manager

“I focus on the issue of water in the context of sustainability. Particularly in paper production, water plays a key role when it comes to conserving resources as much as possible. When you look at climate change, which is increasingly forcing us to face the challenge of regional droughts, this position is becoming ever more relevant. It is all the more valuable that Progroup has been working successfully for many years to reduce the amount of fresh water required to produce paper with closed water circuits on two of its three paper machines.”

Phillipos Vrizas

Site Manager and his team at PM3

“It is ‘the kidney of PM3’ – the ProAqua Plus circulating water treatment plant. The technologies that we use purify process water in a closed water circuit and return it to paper production. The work that our team does ensures that this process of internal water treatment runs smoothly. Our core task then is to guarantee a stable and constant process that manages to deliver maximum efficiency for the whole facility while using the minimum amount of water. This means that the way water is used is a key factor that we monitor very meticulously and manage carefully every day.
Having a consistent mindset and investing in planning and optimising the site are particularly important, and this will also be considered in future projects. One example: Our seal water circuit collects all the water used by all pumps in the plant and allows it to be used multiple times in production. This produces a water saving of up to 280 litres of water per minute.”

Michaela Krock, Ralf Albrecht & Claudia Busch

Team Office Management

"Progroup provides all employees with branded water bottles which we give to new colleagues on their first day working for us. We thus help to ensure that all employees drink enough over the course of the day. (As a rule of thumb, your body requires at least 30 to 40 ml of water per kilogram of body weight per day).It is important to us to offer an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bottles. In the Academy and marketplace, water dispensers are provided for all employees to allow the Progroup water bottles to be refilled with chilled still or sparkling water. We are of course delighted that lots of people make use of this facility. When it comes to watering the grounds, we also focus on smart watering so that we can supply the plants with the water they need without wasting any."

Wastewater manager

of PM2 explains

Water does of course play a major role in my work: As wastewater manager, I manage wastewater disposal processes and make sure that harmful substances do not escape into the environment. However, we at PM2 do not purify our wastewater ourselves, but instead cooperate closely with “ABA Industriegebiet GmbH”, a subsidiary of the Oderaue Drinking Water and Sewage Disposal Association (TAZV).

In the wastewater purification process, the majority of the wastewater is purified by means of “anaerobic biology”, so without oxygen. It is only after this that the aerobic activated sludge (with oxygen) is employed. This is the name given to the cluster of micro-organisms (bacteria) which break down organic substances during wastewater purification."

Marc Krieger

Head of Board Occupational Safety

“Clean water is vital for our health because the human body is 50 per cent water. Drinking water is an important daily source of energy for people. It goes without saying that it is also important to drink plenty of liquid while at work, and this is essential for staying healthy, particularly if you are working inside hot factories during the summer months. Water is also an indispensable resource for delivering first aid if an accident occurs. We are delighted that at Progroup we are regularly able to train first aiders who also learn the different ways that water can be used, for example for rinsing hazardous substances out of the eyes and for cooling the skin if a person suffers burns.”

Stefan Jürgen

PM1 Site Manager

“Water is of fundamental importance to us: ‘Paper is made with water’ is a phrase that every papermaker will have heard many times. But water is not just vital for pulping recovered paper or even dewatering, it is also a source of energy, conditions and transports additives, cleans the circuit, stores ingredients and much more. It is impossible to imagine papermaking without water.
At the same time, we are careful in the way we handle this precious resource and strive to use as little fresh water as possible: Every morning we in our team check the water parameters and look for indicators showing whether the system is operating stably. For PM1 has a special, closed water circuit: We use only the amount of fresh water that is evaporated overhead. In comparison to an open circuit, the amount of fresh water used is therefore only around a fifth. But this also means that the water accumulates various ingredients (mainly from the recovered paper), which makes it much harder to handle. You can say that we have developed our water over the years and also made it what it is today.”

Enrico Schülke

Process Engineer, Maintenance (Power 1)

“Water as a resource does of course feature prominently in our operations. It is used primarily for the water-steam circuit that is typically found in power plants. In our water-steam circuit, we use water to produce around 175 tonnes of superheated steam per hour which we use to generate electricity via a steam turbine and which we then provide to PM2 as process heat. The steam condenses in the PM2 process, which means we get approx. 95% of the steam back as condensate/water. We thus only have to make up the small losses with fresh water.”

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