The Paper360° Top 50 Power List


Welcome to the 14th Top 50 Power List.

It will come as no surprise that COVID-19 still dominates our list for 2021. However, it seems the authorities around the world have managed to get at least some control, and a bit of normality is beginning to return. But it must be said the coronavirus has been a shocker for the world as well as for the pulp and paper industry.

Although it has been grim, there is a silver lining. The pulp and paper industry has shined, proved itself resilient, and above all has proved that the products our mills make are essential ingredients for everyday life, particularly when it comes to packaging and tissue. It must also be mentioned that technical suppliers to the industry have more than stepped up to the plate; heroic stories are emerging of how mills have kept running, and some have even continued to expand, starting up new capacity during the pandemic—kudos to the suppliers.

According to our list, it looks like the next dominating factors going forward are sustainability and diversity. The work never stops, let’s make it fun!

We would be delighted to receive feedback from you on this list for 2021, and of course who should be on our list next year. Please contact Graeme Rodden ([email protected]) or Mark Rushton ([email protected]) with your comments, ideas, and nominations.

1. COVID-19

What a difference a year makes. Well, maybe not. After the first wave, with its staggering sickness and death counts, came the second, third, and fourth waves with variants of the virus. Can we expect more waves and other variants? Thankfully, in 2021 countries and people (with some exceptions) seem to be better prepared to handle the pandemic. Vaccines have been developed, although distribution can still be problematic and lockdowns still exist. Working from home is still a fixture in many peoples’ lives. At least the panic tissue hoarding of the early days seems to have stopped. Will we get back to the way we were or is this the new normal?

We must commend the industry for its response to the pandemic. Wherever possible, it stepped in to help its communities and even those further afield. Either through materials, conversion of lines to produce personal protective equipment, or cash to organizations helping those in need, the industry came through. One example stands out: Mohawk Paper (New York) and Xanita Board collaborated to adapt its product to create pop-up field hospital rooms.


This term is used more and more in political, industrial, financial, and educational circles as the concept is being seen as a valuable tool in the mitigation of climate change, as well as for the conservation of the Earth’s natural resources. Those of you working in the pulp and paper industries—making recyclable, biodegradable products from renewable resources—should pat yourselves on the back and congratulate yourselves for choosing to work in such a showcase industry for the circular bioeconomy!


It has been a year of great change for IP. In late 2020, it announced it would focus on industrial packaging and spin off the company’s printing papers segment into a standalone, publicly traded company (Sylvamo). This involves eight mills with 2.9 million metric tpy of capacity as well as 0.4 million metric tpy of coated paperboard capacity. Sutton said IP will be a “more focused corrugated and absorbent cellulose fibers company.” In other moves, IP sold its Brazilian corrugated packaging business to Klabin and its Turkish corrugated packaging business to Mondi; early in 2021, IP sold its Kwidzyn, Poland, mill to Mayr-Melnhof.


What else can be said? The seemingly perennial winner of the Fastmarkets RISI Latin American CEO of the Year award (he took the laurels for the sixth consecutive year in 2020), Schalka was cited for his transparency on calls and meetings with analysts. Social relations notwithstanding, the judges also noted he was able to skillfully incorporate synergies from the merger with Fibria “while he found out how to turn around the commercial strategy of the company” to solve inventory problems. Finally, the company announced the construction of a new R14.7 billion (about US$2.92) pulp mill in Tato Grosso do Sul state. Scheduled to start up in 2024, it will produce 2.4 million metric tpy of eucalyptus pulp, bringing the company’s capacity to 10.9 million metric tpy.


Despite the ravaging of the global pandemic, Nine Dragons reported highest ever sales volumes in the last half of 2020 of 8.6 million metric tons. Revenue also increased by 7.1 percent year-on-year to an historical high of RMB 30.9 billion (US$4.83 billion). And the juggernaut-like expansion plans continue; in pulp the group plans to have over 2 million metric tpy capacity by the end of 2022, and with ongoing expansion in paper production it is expected to have a total capacity of 19.32 metric tpy by the end of 2022. Chairlady Chueng Yan recently stated, “As the global pandemic is getting more stable, despite great uncertainties remaining, a series of stimulation measures and the policy of ‘Plastic Ban Order’ launched by the Central Government (China) will be significantly conducive for the demand of packaging paper.”


Asian giant APP continues to wield formidable power across the industry with staggering plans recently reported for future expansion—just one being a proposed 4.9 million metric tpy expansion of its Guangxi Jingui Pulp & Paper mill in Qinzhou city. However, it is not all about growth. APP recently shut down production at its first-ever paper and board site in China, the Haishu mill in Ningbo, due to the population of the city growing, and having to close due to emission regulations. Not really a massive problem for APP, it will move its three PMs from Ningbo to other sites, including two to its large mill in Qinzhou city and one to another of its sites in Jiangsu province.


The TAPPI/PIMA Executive of the Year for 2021, Doss leads a company known for innovation and leadership with a forward-looking environmental, social, and corporate strategy. He was cited for “championing the organization’s efforts to develop diversity and inclusion programs.” On the business side, GPI recently concluded its successful partnership with International Paper when the final tranche of membership interests owned by IP in Graphic Packaging International Partners was exchanged for an equivalent number of shares in Graphic Packaging common stock. Doss has also been named as the new chair of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).


Our industry is greedy for trained workers—especially young engineers and leaders—and obsessed with the idea of innovation. These should be reasons enough to kick diversity and inclusion to the top of every pulp, paper, and packaging CEO’s vision board. Add a global political climate increasingly concerned with racial injustice, income disparity, and inequities within immigrant and refugee communities, and there’s simply no excuse to leave this critical issue off our list. The editors see this as a tremendous area of opportunity for companies willing to make genuine and concerted effort. Non-discrimination clauses only scratch the surface; leading companies (see GPI #7) promote diversity as a foundational principle.


As the new president and CEO of WestRock, Sewell has some big shoes to fill following Steve Voorhees’ decision to step down for health reasons. Under Voorhees’ leadership, the company grew to be the second largest paper company in the US and completed nine acquisitions. Sewell joins WestRock from Sherwin-Williams where he recently served as president and COO of global operating segments that generated US$18.4 billion in sales. Sewell also spent 15 years with General Electric.


Named the Fastmarkets RISI North American CEO of the Year for 2020, Pratt is seen as a visionary in a traditionally conservative industry. In one interview with PPI Pulp & Paper Week, Pratt said he is committed now and looking forward to customized digital printing; technological manufacturing advances including, some day, a “lights-out factory;” and a fast-paced ordering platform that would initiate board- and box-making from a Star Trek-like “bridge.” Although he has his eyes on the sky, his feet are firmly planted on the ground. As one analyst noted, “As a CEO and owner of the company, he’s very visibly in the marketplace. If he says he is going to do something, he does that and that’s not necessarily the case with every publicly-traded company CEO.”


“Everything that can become digital, will become digital,” said printing technology leader Benny Landa in the 1990s. The coronavirus has sped up this vision even further, certainly for the pulp and paper industries. From our daily schedule of meetings and attending events on Zoom, Teams, and Skype calls, to major IIoT data gathering and analysis at pulp and paper mills all over the world, digital technology has been transforming the way we work. There are also some excellent stories and anecdotes emerging of how the latest in digital technology is transforming breakdown and maintenance issues at mills using AI and the latest audio-visual technology.


The company was founded by Hongxin in 1982 when he began delivering paper on the back of a moped. Recently named Fastmarkets RISI’s Asian CEO of the Year for the fourth time, the company now has a market capitalization of over RMB 50 billion (US$7.8 billion) and has a capacity approaching 10 million metric tpy. Over recent years, Sun Paper has diversified from graphic papers into containerboard as well as into pulp—most notably its wood pulp and recycled pulp mills in Laos. After receiving the Fastmarkets RISI award, Li said, “We have been promoting the high-quality development of the company, actively supporting the Belt and Road Initiative, and successfully extending our business upstream along the industry chain.”


Stora Enso continues to transform under Bresky’s leadership with a number of strategic developments taking place. Earlier this year the company announced the closure of pulp and paper production at its Kvarnsveden and Veitsiluoto mills, as well as the discontinuation of dissolving pulp production at its Enocell mill. On the other hand, the company started up its conversion of the Oulu mill in Finland from graphic paper to kraftliner and continues with a feasibility study to expand pulp and board production at its Skoghall mill in Sweden. Commenting after the company’s first quarter results this year, which shows sales up 3 percent from a year ago, Bresky said, “I am pleased to deliver yet another solid result; we are getting back on track with many of our financial targets.”


The global chief financial officer of Paper Excellence was the point man for the recently announced US$3 billion purchase of Domtar. With numerous assets in Canada, the purchase of Domtar’s American (and Canadian) facilities gives Paper Excellence a gateway to the lucrative US market. Domtar will continue to act as a standalone entity under Paper Excellence, Ragan added, “This marks a major step in our global strategy of identifying well-positioned assets and positioning them for growth. Domtar is a natural fit for our culture of operational excellence.”


As a CEO with firsthand knowledge of the perils of COVID-19, Williams continued to lead Domtar’s evolution. Beginning in August 2020, the company began a strategic review of value-creating alternatives. One of the biggest steps came in January when it sold its personal care business to American Industrial Partners for US$920 million. This fit into the company’s policy to become a leading pulp, paper, and packaging company. The packaging end is led by the conversion of the Kingsport, TN, mill to produce 600,000 tpy of lightweight containerboard. On the non-paper side, it also announced a new airlaid machine for its Jesup, GA, engineered absorbent materials facility. As for Paper Excellence’s purchase of Domtar, Williams said it validates Domtar’s long-term strategic plan for its leading pulp and paper businesses and for a continued expansion into packaging.


Named International CEO of the Year for 2020 at the 12th PPI Awards, Teixeira continues to push Klabin’s growth in packaging. The company recently announced the second phase of the Puma project, which will see the installation of a second paperboard machine, MP28, with startup slated for 2Q 2023. This will bring the company’s production of pulp and packaging papers to 4.7 million metric tpy. MP27, due to start up in July, will produce Eukaliner, the first kraftliner made from 100 percent eucalyptus fiber.


Smurfit has had a lot on his plate since taking up the role of CEO at Smurfit Kappa in 2015. He successfully defended a takeover bid from International Paper in 2018; shareholders believed that, with his leadership, the company could generate better returns. Smurfit has proved them right by delivering 180 percent shareholder returns since his appointment (according to industry commentators). Then there was the global pandemic to deal with and the challenges that come with running a company with more than 40,000 employees scattered across Europe and the Americas. Smurfit was recently awarded the Fastmarkets RISI European CEO of the Year for leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as for continued investment for future growth.


2021 saw the successful culmination of the company’s largest ever project, a US$500+ million investment in a new packaging paper machine in Green Bay, WI, that uses 100 percent post-consumer recycled fiber. GBP was also recognized by the National Recycling Coalition with the 2020 Outstanding Business Leadership award. It also announced construction of a 550,000-ft2 corrugating plant in Tulsa, OK, with start-up due in October, 2021.


Pesonen has headed up UPM since 2004 and has been responsible for its transformation from a mere pulp and paper company into UPM Biofore—Beyond Fossils. Pesonen has been proven right in transforming the company: in the latest figures, UPM Biorefining division showed the biggest improvement in earnings with high demand for pulp, timber, and biofuels. In its continuing move away from paper production, the company recently sold its Shotton newsprint mill in the UK to Turkish board and corrugated manufacturer Eren Paper. Elsewhere, work continues on its massive Uruguay pulp project scheduled to start up in the second half of 2022, as well as the deep-water pulp terminal at the Port of Montevideo (see page 15), which will handle 2 million metric tpy of pulp.


For a company formed fewer than five years ago, Pixelle Specialty Solutions has come a long way. It now owns four paper mills in the US with 11 paper machines and can produce more than one million tons annually, covering such diverse products as food contact, envelope, and high-speed inkjet papers; carbonless and forms; and greeting and playing cards. Hess has been CEO since the company’s formation. Pixelle’s most recent acquisitions include the specialty paper business Rollsource, purchased from Verativ, as well as the carbonless rolls and security papers business from Appvion.


UK packaging giant DS Smith recently announced an impressive £100 million (US$141 million) R&D and innovation program to “accelerate its work in the circular economy.” With the announcement and its new sustainability strategy, the company has pledged to offer all customers 100 percent recyclable packaging within two years and replace “a billion pieces of supermarket and e-commerce plastic by 2025.” The R&D program includes specific projects on new materials, designing out waste, and a new Prototyping Acceleration Hub. Roberts says, “How we live our lives is changing fast due to many factors, and how we all take care of the environment is a top priority. We are now investing more than in previous years to ensure we are leading this change and can offer customers packaging that has less impact on the environment.”


As the leading industry association, with 7,000 members in 66 countries, TAPPI, under Montague’s leadership, faced a daunting task to remain relevant and viable while the pandemic raged. With travel out of the question, an important source of revenue was lost as in-person conferences and courses were cancelled by the score; yet, the industry still relied on TAPPI resources. Innovative thinking led to virtual meetings and events with a mix of pre-recorded and live sessions, free membership for those laid off, and promoting services such as TAPPIConnect, which provided a forum to help solve job-related challenges. The ideas worked. International attendance at virtual meetings increased significantly; senior executives were more likely to give a presentation virtually since they did not have to leave their offices for days to attend in person. The end results? TAPPI continues to operate in the black and no staff members were laid off.


As per last year, we will group tissue’s “Big Three” together as they (and all tissue producers) continue to do all they can to help combat the effects of the pandemic across society. Although there seems to be light at the end of a very dark tunnel, the spread of COVID-19 variants means these companies will probably need to continue their philanthropy for some time. Another issue they face, particularly as large corporations, is the increased focus on diversity and inclusion. All the while, they must remain cognizant of the extremely competitive, fast-moving consumer markets they serve.


The aging workforce, the “Silver Tsunami”—call it what you will, but as the pandemic wore on, some of the older people in the industry decided this was the time to retire. Though this has been an ongoing issue for the industry, perhaps the young professionals’ time really is now. As they take on more responsibility, support from senior management is more important than ever. TAPPI responded by increasing the number of training programs in finance, management, and other skills that these young up-and-comers will need. In a few short years, these YPs will lead the industry—but we must ensure that they have the resources and incentives that will make them want to remain here and not seek greener pastures elsewhere.


His feet firmly under the table after his first year as CEO, King is stamping his authority on the sustainability front and has set out an action plan at Mondi Group for the next 10 years. The Mondi Action Plan 2030 (MAP2030) is a new sustainability framework that builds on the strong progress already made with its former plan, Growing Responsibly. MAP2030 is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development goals, which, as King states, “connects our 26,000 colleagues with a shared sense of purpose to contribute to a better world by making innovative, sustainable packaging and paper solutions.” In its latest full year figures, Mondi weathered the COVID-19 storm in robust fashion and finished the year positively with continued strong demand in the packaging business.


Starting from a plan on a sheet of paper in 1991, to what is now an industrial giant with a turnover of nearly US$1 billion, German-headquartered Progroup is an unstoppable force in the corrugated board market in Europe. The company now has three paper mills in Germany, supplying its own 11 corrugated sheetboard plants across Europe and the UK. It also plans to add one corrugated sheet plant a year to its portfolio, starting with the next one in Poland as recently announced. In August last year Progroup built, constructed, and assembled “one of the most modern paper mills in the world” at a greenfield site in Sandersdorf-Brehna, Eastern Germany, in a record-breaking time of only 18 months. The Voith-supplied PM 3 increases Progroup’s capacity to 1.8 million metric tpy of containerboard.


Although hampered by a pandemic-related delay, Arauco is ready to complete its massive MAPA project. The new pulp line (No. 3), capable of producing 1.56 million metric tpy of pulp, was due to start in March, 2021; instead, it should start up this fall. Line 2 has been modernized to produce 510,000 metric tpy. A late 2020 acquisition shows a foresight needed in the industry: Arauco acquired majority ownership in Odd Industries, an “ethically-driven” artificial intelligence pioneer. The aim is to accelerate the use of AI to help slow and reverse climate change.


As always, there is a lot going on at Metsä Group. The largest and perhaps most important development is the new bioproduct mill at its Kemi site in Finland. A bioproduct mill is basically a modern pulp mill, but with a lot of extras in terms of innovative products derived from side streams including energy, chemicals, and textile applications. The EUR1.6 billion (US$1.95 billion) investment is the largest ever made by the forest industry in Finland and will see the Kemi bioproduct mill produce 1.5 million metric tpy of pulp. Construction will take around two-and-a-half years, with the mill starting up during the third quarter of 2023.


The European Green Deal, which plans for Europe to be net neutral in the emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, is going to prove a major challenge for the European pulp and paper industries going forward—basically because they have done such a good job already in cutting emissions. The industry has reduced CO2 emissions since 2005 by 28 percent, and has reduced energy consumption by 12.3 percent. “To reach the goals in the deal, the European industry will need to do even better than it already has, which means a lot of breakthrough technologies, innovation, and funding,” said Jori Ringman, Cepi director general, in a recent interview with Paper360o.


With an emphasis on the “advanced,” the company has just announced a further investment in Anomera, which produces patented carboxylated cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) that is sourced from Rayonier. This CNC serves as a natural building block for Anomera’s patented products such as ChromaPur, DextraCel, and ChromAllur; these are used to produce cosmetics, cements, composites, adhesives, and color pigments. Rayonier Advanced Materials first invested in Anomera in 2017 and plans further investments over the next five years. It now owns 44 percent voting interest in the company. Anomera is now building a specialty manufacturing facility at the Rayonier high purity cellulose site in Temiscaming, QC. In April, Rayonier announced that it had sold its six lumber mills in Quebec and its newsprint business (Kapuskasing, ON) to GreenFirst Forest Products.


Containerboard giant Lee & Man continues to be a major force in the industry as it looks to solve issues with recycled pulp supply and virgin wood pulp costs in China. The company recently announced it will build two 340,000 metric tpy semi-chemical pulp lines: one at its Hongmei mill and the other at its Jiujiang mill in the country. Lee & Man is also big in tissue in China; last year it ordered six new tissue machines for its mill in Chongqing.


Dealing with a whole new political regime—one that is diametrically opposed to the previous administration—will be one of Brock’s key roles in the near future. President Biden’s proposed legislation concerning a “Green New Deal,” infrastructure spending, climate change, and international trade will keep the AF&PA staff busy in the years ahead. Responding to the president’s Leaders Summit on Climate, Brock made sure the industry’s hard work and practices did not go unnoticed. “We urge the Biden administration to support policies that recognize our industry is one based on a renewable and recyclable resource, that our products are manufactured using renewable bioenergy, and after use, are widely and highly recycled.”


Eikelenboom was recently appointed as the new CEO of Sappi Europe, taking the reins from Berry Wiersum, who has often appeared on the Power List over the years. Wiersum—with his dynamic demeanor and personality—might be a hard act to follow, but Eikelenboom appears to have the attributes and experience to take over the role and drive Sappi Europe into the next era. During his extensive career he’s been managing director of Sappi Benelux, worked at Sappi Southern Africa as marketing director, and from 2009 was vice president marketing and sales for graphic papers, a tough role that has no-doubt imbued him with the resilience he’ll need. Eikelenboom is a Dutch citizen and is fluent in Dutch, English, French, and German.


Ringman has had a busy first full year as director general at the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi). As well as dealing with the pandemic, where Cepi played a major and proactive role in developing a master plan for delivering essential goods across Europe, there has also been the busy day-to-day life as leader of a major association. Ringman’s latest challenges include getting better recognition of forest-based industries in the EU Green Deal goals, launching new industry initiatives such as its latest “4evergreen,” and taking part in regular “Cepinars” on industry activities.


Lyrå is the incoming president and CEO of Swedish market pulp giant Södra and rejoins the company after a decade spent working in the retail sector, including at Ikea. In a recent interview with Paper360°, Lyrå dispensed some wisdom she learned from the retail sector, saying, “Working with consumer-facing brands was very positive for me. Ikea is particularly good at working throughout the value chain from raw material to consumer. I share this philosophy as part of a strategy to innovate for a sustainable future.” Södra is making great headway in its efforts to close the loops in its pulp manufacturing and in creating value from side streams, including making commercial biomethanol at the first plant of its kind at its Mönsterås mill in Sweden. It has also launched OnceMore®, a high alpha cellulose pulp for textile applications that partly consists of recycled clothing and textiles.


Innovations, alliances, and partnerships are lining up as opportunities are realized by pulp producers in the field of textiles. Microplastics from fossil fuel-derived textiles such as polyester are polluting oceans all over the world, and cellulosic applications could solve the problem due to their biodegradability. Some big names in pulp are making the move: Suzano is teaming up with Finnish company Spinnova to create a commercial-scale sustainable textile fiber facility in Finland and Swedish market pulp producer Södra has recently signed a joint agreement with cellulosic fiber specialist Lenzing to scale up production of pulp from post-consumer textile waste. Metsä Group is already in on the act; it recently launched its Kuura textile fiber brand from its Metsä Spring innovation company, which is made at the Äänekoski bioproduct mill in Finland. Metsä also has a cooperation with the Japanese trading house Itochu Corporation.


Formed in Ruka, northern Finland only four short years ago, the forum is now known globally as a leading platform for discussions on the circular bioeconomy. With its four pillars of discussion—People, Planet Policies; Global Leaders and the Financial World; Bioproducts Around Us; and Looking to the Future—it encapsulates everything going on in the circular bioeconomy sector. The forum’s next event will be held in Belém, capital of the Pará State in northern Brazil and gateway to the Amazon. It has already attracted high-profile industry figures including CEO of Klabin, Cristiano Teixeira; Andritz board member Joachim Schönbeck; and Valmet’s Area President South America, Celso Tacla. The forum has also launched a number of new products specifically designed for circular bioeconomy stakeholders, including a mobile app for breaking news and targeted roundtables.


The winner of the two highest technical awards in the North American pulp and paper industry (TAPPI’s Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal and PAPTAC’s John S. Bates Gold Medal), Tran is recognized as the world expert in the chemical recovery field. He recently established and endowed the TAPPI Journal Honghi Tran Best Research Paper Prize, to encourage and reward the publication of high-quality research. Tran himself has authored or co-authored more than 80 papers published in TJ.


Forgive the pun, but it seems tissue products are wiping the floor with air-blowing hand dryers as they prove to be much more effective at controlling airborne viruses such as the coronavirus. Reports are that restaurants and fast-food outlets across the globe are already ditching hand dryer technology and instead installing the latest in tissue dispensers.


An entrepreneur of long standing, Tak had wide ranging interests in a number of industries, including infrastructure development, IT, and commercial real estate before becoming involved with the paper industry when he purchased the shuttered Oconto Falls, WI, tissue mill in 2007 under the ST Paper banner. The group expanded greatly when it purchased the idled IP fine paper mill in Franklin, VA, and converted it to tissue production, installing a modern tissue machine in 2013 (see Tissue360° Fall/Winer 2013.) Now, ST Paper has purchased the former Verso Paper mill in Duluth, MN, and plans to re-open it as a tissue mill.


Will they or won’t they be held? Olympics, Euro 2020, tennis opens, Grand Prix events, and professional sports leagues have all felt the sting of the coronavirus, playing in front of few fans, no fans, or in “bubbles.” So, how does paper figure in all this? The absence of fans means no food packaging for the concessions, no tissue for the bathrooms, no graphic paper for the programs. Multiply all this by the millions who would attend these events and the industry takes a hit.


In April, Rowzie took over as president of this organization that does a such a good job promoting the benefits of the print and paper industry while dispelling many of the negative myths that surround it. Her career spans more than 30 years in corporate and consulting roles. Prior to joining Two Sides in 2020, Rowzie was vice president of communications and corporate affairs at Verso Paper. She also worked at IP from 2003 to 2015. She has been instrumental in helping Two Sides launch many of its educational and marketing materials.


The company continues to forge a strong presence in the tissue industry with the successful start-up of Canada’s largest TAD machine, a 70,000-metric tpy unit at its Sherbrooke, QC, facility. It also announced a further US$240-million investment in Sherbrooke that will see the installation of an LDC tissue machine and two converting lines. The new machine is due to start up in 2024. The company is strongly diversified, with operations in 10 sectors, including sustainable energy. It has partnered in a new wind farm in Quebec that will produce 24 MW. Kruger has also contributed greatly to the fight against COVID-19. It supplies pulp for a bio-degradable, single-use face mask. It also donated a bus (plus its operating resources) that will serve as Quebec’s first mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic.


The 2021 recipient of TAPPI’s highest technical award, the Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal, Frank is recognized as one the most prolific contributors in the North American containerboard/corrugated industry in the last 20 years. As a researcher, mentor, author, and volunteer leader, Frank’s work has enabled the development of more effective, efficient, and sustainable containerboard and corrugated packaging. Frank began his career at PCA in 2001 and is now director of materials research and innovation; his primary focus is on product development.


Sustainability remains the driving force behind Cascades’ principles. Always a pioneer in the recycling industry, it has just launched its fourth sustainability action plan for 2021-2025. Cascades was recently ranked 17th in Most Sustainable Corporations in the World listing from Corporate Knights. It recently introduced a 100 percent recycled/recyclable thermoformed cardboard food tray, a North American first. In operations, the US$380-million containerboard conversion project at Bear Island, VA, is on schedule and on budget. Start-up is slated for 2023 with 80 percent capacity expected to be reached by the end of 2023 and 100 percent capacity by the end of 2025. Its European boxboard segment was expected to close the acquisition of Papelera del Principado by mid-year.


Hajakian has been with USG as a paper technical manager for the last 13 years, but her influence is as a tireless member of TAPPI’s Women in Industry Division (WIN). As one colleague noted, “Paula is a perennial leader.” A 30-year member and TAPPI Fellow, she has served on numerous committees and divisions, holding officer chairs for many, with notable service to the Papermaking Committee and Paper and Board Division. She has also been a TAPPI Mentor and has worked on TIPS. For all her accomplishments, she was well-deservedly selected as WIN’s 2021 Woman of the Year.


The director of corrugated boards was named Industry Woman of the Year at the 12th PPI Awards. Michelucci joined  in 1984 and has participated in numerous and significant changes within the company and at the industry level as well. Her career has been marked by leadership and engagement initiatives that have inspired teams to grow together with her. She also serves as chairwoman of the Brazilian Paper Packaging Association (Empapel), whose mission is to expand the entity’s representative role in the sector.


One of the latest initiatives to come out of Europe is 4evergreen, which is attracting the attention of leading brand owners. The initiative has been set up by Cepi as a cross-industry alliance to boost the contribution of fiber-based packaging to the circular bioeconomy across the value chain. The alliance has 60 active members from packaging designers to mills, and counts Nestle, Mars, P&G, Danone, IKEA, Kellogg’s, and Ferrero as members. The vision of the alliance is to “perfect the circularity of fiber-based packaging to contribute to a climate neutral and sustainable society.”