Integration of water footprint accounting and costs for optimal chemical pulp supply mix in paper industry

Alessandro Manzardo, Jingzheng Ren, Antonio Piantella, Anna Mazzi, Andrea Fedele, Antonio Scipioni

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical pulp is one of the most important raw materials used in the paper industry. This material is known to make a significant contribution to the water footprint and cost of final paper products; therefore, chemical pulp is crucial in determining the competitiveness of final products'. Several studies have focused on these aspects, but there have been no previous reports on the integrated application of raw material water footprint accounting and costs in the definition of the optimal supply mix of chemical pulps from different countries. The current models that have been applied specifically to the paper industry are based mainly on general sectorial data; therefore, they cannot reflect the importance of the efficiency of the different processes in the supply chain of paper production. The objective of this study was to develop a multi-objective optimization model to identify the supply mix that minimizes the water footprint accounting results and costs of chemical pulp, thereby facilitating the assessment of the water footprint by accounting for different chemical pulps purchased from various suppliers, with a focus on the efficiency of the production process. Water footprint accounting was adapted to better represent the efficiency of pulp and paper production. A multi-objective model for supply mix optimization was also developed using multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA). Water footprint accounting confirmed the importance of the production efficiency of chemical pulp, which affected the final results, with an average factor of 4.7 m3wood/t paper. The MCDA that we developed was used to determine the optimal mix of chemical pulps from different countries, which demonstrated how the optimal mix changed when considering only one of the two variables. Herein, we also discuss the latest developments in impact assessments related to water based on a life cycle assessment, which should be used as a framework for the future development of the model that is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-173
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Life cycle perspective
  • Multi criteria analysis
  • Supply chain management
  • Water footprint accounting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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