Enzymatic upgrading of recycled paper

Recycled paper industry faces increasing problems with fibre quality. Research will be executed on the possibilities of using specific fibre-modifying enzymes to improve pulp and paper properties. Action of the enzymes will be studied.

The paper and board industry in THE NETHERLANDS leads in the use of recycled paper (up to 75% of fibre input). There is a strong political and social pressure to even further increase the re-use. However, due to this recycling the quality of fibres decreases and the amount of fines and (an)organic compounds increases with 1% per year. This results in a decrease of production (decreased de-watering), lower efficiency of process and functional chemicals, and a decrease of the quality of the end product. This loss of fibre quality must be compensated. Recycled paper and board can be upgraded by adding virgin fibres, large quantities of chemicals or removing disturbing fines from the pulp and discarding the fines into waste. These measures are both from an economical and ecological point of view less favourable. Results from recent research has shown that under laboratory conditions specific enzymes are able to modify fibres and fines in such a way that strength of paper can be increased, de-watering of pulp can be enhanced, and the efficiency of chemicals can be improved. However, the size, complexity, and variability of the papermaking process urges further research into the behaviour and effect of enzymes under conditions like those in the recycled paper and board industry. AIM OF THE PROJECT The aim of the project is to gather knowledge about the behaviour and effect of enzymes under conditions like those in the recycled paper and board industry. This information will form the basis for deciding whether enzymes can be used to further develop technology that will increase the production capacity with a significant reduction in energy consumption, which in turn leads to a decrease in the use of virgin fibres, lowering the amount of process and functional chemicals, and improving the efficiency of bleaching and de-inking. SCOPE Research will be focused on the effect of the height and variations in temperature, concentration, pH, chemicals, residence time, etc. as they occur in the recycled paper industry with the effect of enzymes on fibres. MARKET The market for the enzyme technology will be the paper and board industry, using recycled paper. In THE NETHERLANDS 2.4 million tons of recycled paper is being used. In Europe this is 44 million tons. The economic driving force for using enzymes will be an increase in productivity of 3-5%. For the 2 participating Dutch end-users, an increase of 3% means a profit of 1400 kEuro and a reduction of energy of 120TJ. PARTICIPANTS WAGENINGEN UR PAPER AND BOARD will study the mechanism of enzymatic actions on recycled fibres, the activity of individual enzymes, and the interaction of enzymes and chemicals under the conditions as applied in paper processing. The participating paper and board industries KAPPA ROERMOND PAPIER (producer of paper for corrugated board) and MAYR-MELNHOF EERBEEK (producer of folding box board) supply the parameters and conditions for the action of enzyme technology. They will study model systems of their process and search for possible adaptations for efficient enzyme treatment. The COMPETENCE CENTRE PAPER AND BOARD will organise the co-ordination of the research and the gathering of relevant information from the rest of paper industry. Keywords: enzymes, recycled paper, fibre treatment.
Project ID: 
3 210
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
970 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Paper technology
Market Area: 
Wood / Pulp & paper

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.