Singapore (News release) - The importance of sustainability in driving long term growth in the pulp and paper industry, and as a key factor impacting on the purchasing decisions of consumers, was highlighted recently by APRIL Group at an international industry forum.
Speaking at the Siemens Fiber Industry Web Conference, Praveen Singhavi, President, APRIL Group, said: "Sustainability will become crucial for companies operating in this industry over the next decade, as consumers become more sustainability-conscious. The ability of companies, and the industry as a whole, to operate sustainably will remain key through to 2030 and beyond".
"Securing raw materials or sustainably produced fibre, and increasing productivity, will be critical for companies to be successful in the future. The anti-plastic movement is also likely to become even more pronounced, which will increase the demand for paper-based products," he said. APRIL is a member of the RGE group of companies. RGE manages a group of resource-based manufacturing companies with global operations.
Also on the panel were Lars Mallasch, Group Technical & Sustainability Director, Mondi; Andreas Endters, CEO Group Division Paper, Voith Paper; and Jan Kabus, Vice President for Fiber Industry, Siemens Energy. The focus of the panel was on the strategies needed to improve the sustainability and long-term growth potential of the energy intense pulp and paper industry.
A major topic for discussion was the continued impact of digitalisation. "Generally, our industry is already quite automated, where most processes in mills are controlled by centralized systems and generate millions of data points. This provides insights that can be valuable, in terms of data analytics and the implementation of artificial intelligence tools", said Mr. Singhavi.
"At APRIL, we have implemented digital solutions across our organisation, from forestry to mill operations to logistics and sales. For example, for our paper customers, we created a mobile customer portal, which allows a lot of our customer engagement activity, like product catalogue viewing and order tracking, to be done on a smartphone. This is integrated with production planning and logistics, and has in turn resulted in improved productivity and customer service for our operations," he said.
The requirement to balance continued growth with ongoing commitments to sustainability, especially in terms of emissions reductions and climate mitigation, was another key focus area for the panel.
"As we see the rise in fiber demand due to increasing use of tissue and sustainable packaging, the fiber industry is faced with the challenge to improve yield without expanding land bank or concession footprint. We have achieved a 29% increase in fibre yield over the past four years without expanding our land bank or concession footprint. Science-based solutions and continued research that enables us to produce more from the same land bank is essential for supply and sustainability," said Mr. Singhavi.
"Our APRIL2030 commitments show that with the right focus, companies can make major progress on sustainability. We hope that with APRIL2030 we are demonstrating that an Asian company can be part of the global movement to deliver on the SDGs and have a positive impact on climate, nature and people, while also continuing to run our business sustainably to produce high quality renewable fiber-based products," he said. "My hope is that our industry can continue to move forward, based on greater collaboration and partnerships, to be part of the solution to climate change mitigation and to have a positive impact on the environment," he added.