What opportunities do industry leaders see in the
biomaterials arena? How does a commitment to
sustainability make good business sense?
As part of its “full-circle” look at the emerging bioeconomy, Paper360° caught up with the keynoters at two upcoming events with programs focused on biomaterials and sustainability: TAPPI IBBC (International Bioenergy and Bioproducts Conference), and TAPPI PEERS (Pulping, Engineering, Environmental, Recycling, and Sustainability Conference.) Their comments centered around opportunity and innovation.
“I believe we can replace most petroleum-based products with all natural
IBBC Keynote Speaker Mark F. DeAndrea is vice president and business unit leader, Biomaterials, at Domtar. He joined Domtar in January, 2016, and is a member of the Pulp and Paper Leadership Team. DeAndrea has management oversight and responsibility for Domtar’s newly created Biomaterials Business Unit. He is also a board member for Celluforce, a joint venture between Schlumberger, Fibria, FPInnovations, and Domtar that is the world leader in the commercial production of Cellulose NanoCrystals (CNC).
With more than 25 years of international management experience, DeAndrea’s background includes strategy, finance, strategic capital, commercialization, mergers and acquisitions, and operations for a variety of companies and industries including industrial bio-refining, biomaterials, and technology. He is based in Fort Mill, SC.
P360: Domtar has a strong history of R&D in all of its business areas, including biomaterials. How has that made good business sense for the company?
DeAndrea: When we think about how R&D makes an impact on our business, it is important to include the relationship between R&D and innovation. In other words, R&D investment provides the knowhow, but innovation is the method of finding the best sustainably and commercially viable solutions to solve pain points and meet market needs.
When we evaluate new business opportunities, we look at a variety of decision drivers such as market need, market maturity, technical feasibility, and technical readiness, to name a few. A strong R&D platform adds visibility and clarity for several of these key drivers, significantly improving our innovation process.
Tell us a little about Domtar’s newly-created Biomaterials Business Unit. What are your goals?
The Biomaterials Business Unit has one very simple mission: increase revenues (and of course, profits) at our mills. Thus, we structured the Biomaterials Business Unit into five platforms based on where we see the potential additional revenue streams: Extractives, Lignin, Cellulosic Sugars, Thermochemical Fuels, and Advanced Fibers.
As one of the top 20 global pulp and paper companies, what opportunities in bioenergy/biorefining are most exciting for Domtar? What role do you feel biorefining will play in the “pulp and paper industry of the future?”
If you have ever been to a beach and witnessed miles and miles of plastics floating along the shore, then I am sure you will understand my answer—I am excited about all the opportunities! I believe we can replace most petroleum-based products with all natural bio-based products. More importantly, as technology costs have come down, more and more of these bio-based products are price competitive with their petroleum-based counterparts.
As for the future, I can’t answer the question the way it is being asked. In other words, biorefining will not play a role in pulp and paper—I believe they will be one and the same.
As keynoter at TAPPI IBBC (see sidebar), can you give us a brief preview of what you’ll be speaking about?
I will be talking about the transformation we are seeing, away from petroleum-based fuels and products, toward a low-carbon, bio-based global economy, and the potential leadership role for pulp and paper, specifically by unlocking the value of our biomass supply chain.
Domtar is a leading provider of a wide variety of fiber-based products, including communication, specialty and packaging papers, market pulp, and absorbent hygiene products. Domtar Pulp and Paper has four business units: Pulp, Paper, Specialty Paper, and BioMaterials. The company has approximately 9,850 employees serving more than 50 countries around the world. www.domtar.com
“Doing what you can to have a positive impact on the environment is the right thing to do.”
PEERS Keynote Speaker Robert C. Tiede is executive vice president and COO at Sonoco Products Company. In this role, he has global leadership, sales and operating responsibility for Sonoco’s diversified consumer, industrial, and protective packaging businesses. Since joining Sonoco in 2004, Tiede has led all of Sonoco’s global consumer-related businesses, including Rigid Paper Containers, Flexible Packaging, Plastics, and Display and Packaging. Most recently, Tiede served as senior vice president, global consumer packaging and services. During his tenure at Sonoco, the company’s consumer-related businesses have increased sales by approximately 90 percent and operating profits by 120 percent. Tiede is based in Hartsville, SC.
Responses from Sonoco were also provided, as noted, by Brian Risinger, director, corporate communications for Sonoco.
P360: Sonoco has a strong culture of sustainability. How has that made good business sense for the company?
Tiede: Sustainability has always been extremely important to Sonoco. Our purpose statement—what we call our “why”—is Better Packaging, Better Life. You can’t really pursue that as a “why” if you aren’t focused on sustainability, because it impacts both aspects of that statement.
These days, I can’t think of a customer who doesn’t have a sustainability goal; what we produce for them, and how we produce it, helps them reach their sustainability targets. That partnership is also good for our business. Also, as we say in our Mission Statement, “People build businesses by doing the right thing.” And doing what you can to have a positive impact on the environment is the right thing to do.
Sonoco has some very impressive sustainability achievements. What are the key strategies you’ve used?
Risinger: Since 2009, we have reduced our normalized greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) by 21 percent; we have reduced normalized water usage by 42 percent; and have reduced normalized landfill disposal by 7.7 percent, which includes a 12 percent reduction in 2016 alone.
There are five elements we focus on related to these areas of sustainability: package design, production, delivery and display, customer use, and recycling and reuse. Looking at recycling and reuse, for instance, there are more than 125 recycling centers we manage for municipalities. We have five material recovery facilities that serve as the collection point for nearly three million tons of OCC, along with various grades of paper, metal, and plastic. In addition, several of the products we produce are part of a recovery program where we collect the material from our customer, refurbish it, and then reuse it.
Sonoco’s Hartsville biomass boiler project, which started up in 2014, was a significant investment. How has the investment been paying off?
Risinger: Sonoco established a goal to materially reduce normalized greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent over five years. Our strategy focused on reducing use of higher emitting energy sources, particularly coal, and transitioning to less carbon-intensive natural gas and biogenic carbon-neutral biomass (C02 = 0). This effort required significant planning, engineering, and investment in our global uncoated recycled paperboard (URB) mills—including the US$75 million biomass cogeneration facility in our Hartsville, SC, manufacturing complex.
The benefits of this strategy have been dramatic. In five years, Sonoco reduced normalized GHG emissions by nearly 24 percent, with normalized emissions in 2014 dropping nearly 12 percent. This reflects the success of the new Hartsville biomass boiler system.
As a major packaging producer, what opportunities in bioenergy/bio products are most exciting for Sonoco? What do you see ahead?
Risinger: I’m no scientist, but we have very bright people at Sonoco looking at the possibilities every day. There is a great deal of research being done throughout the industry on both bioenergy and the development of bio-products. Plant-based packaging has gained some traction and still has a long runway for growth. Pulp for textile applications is growing. The use of other plant-based fibers to create alternative forms of packaging is getting more and more achievable. We’re hearing about more research activity to develop new bio-products ranging from applications for nanofibers to lignin-based carbon fiber.
There is also hope in the bioconversion industry that it will find a way to convert cellulose-based, nonedible biomass and agricultural waste into clean, affordable high-value fuels or chemicals. So, we see potential both in terms of powering our facilities, as well as producing new forms of packaging.
As keynoter at TAPPI PEERS (see sidebar), can you give us a brief preview of what you’ll be speaking about?
Tiede: The majority of my presentation will be as an advocate for the industry. I’ll also be discussing many of the opportunities for bioenergy and bioproducts, along with some other macroeconomic factors impacting our industry—one of which is the impact of e-commerce on the supply and price of OCC.
Sonoco is a US$5 billion global provider of consumer packaging, industrial products, and packaging supply chain services. Sonoco’s operations consist of the global consumer packaging businesses; the display and packaging division; industrial businesses (tubes and cores, reels and spools, uncoated recycled paperboard, and Sonoco Recycling, one of the world’s largest recyclers); and the protective solutions division. With headquarters in Hartsville, SC, Sonoco has more than 300 operations in 33 countries. www.sonoco.com
PEERS + IBBC
Bring Experts Together
With multi-track technical sessions planned and peer-reviewed by industry professionals, as well as special “bridge” sessions open to attendees of both conferences, TAPPI’s co-located PEERS and IBBC events offer an excellent opportunity to stay abreast of the latest innovations and processes in some of our industry’s most critical subject areas.
PEERS 2017 will cover topics in pulping, engineering, energy, recycling, and sustainability. Conference highlights include a New Technology Showcase, Best Practices discussions, and a Career Development track. PEERS will take place November 5-8. www.tappipeers.org
IBBC 2017 addresses innovations in bioproducts and the bioeconomy, and features Case Studies, Student Poster Sessions, and insight into new opportunities. IBBC will take place November 7-9. www.tappi-ibbc.org
The events are co-located at the Hilton Norfolk The Main in Norfolk, VA. New this year, attendees may register for one or both events for the same price. Special mill pricing is also available for teams of up to 10 from the same location. Visit websites for complete program details and registration options.