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The carbon footprint and lifecycle analysis of kaolin and calcium carbonate pigments in paper

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2010, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 17-23

Pruett, R.J.


Paper and paperboard manufacturers need to quantify the carbon footprint and environmental impact of their products to satisfy market, social and government demands. Coated paper products contain minerals, such as kaolin and calcium carbonate, at significant levels; some coated paper grades have mineral contents as high as 45% by weight. Some uncoated paper has no mineral content, but most uncoated paper contains some mineral to improve appearance, process efficiency and cost. Super-calendared paper grades can contain levels of mineral up to 35% by weight. This paper describes how to calculate the carbon footprint of kaolin and calcium carbonate minerals used for white pigments. The carbon footprint of these minerals strongly correlates to the primary energy sources, final product form and energy used to calcine kaolin and lime. Kaolin and calcium carbonate pigments have a favorable impact on the carbon footprint of paper and paperboard products by directly substituting for fiber and by reducing the energy needed for paper making.