Middle East Conferences: A tough job

Middle Eastern and Indian mill buyers of recovered paper face the same obstacles as those in other parts of the world.

March 17, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
Conferences & Events Legislation & Regulations Paper
As session chair Bill Moore of Moore & Associates, Atlanta, introduced panelists at the “Mill Buyers’ Roundtable” at the 2014 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Middle East, March 4-5, in Dubai, he summarized why the paper mill recovered fiber purchasing position can be a difficult one.

Moore said the position requires “a broad mix of skills” including technical papermaking knowledge, business acumen, familiarity with the effects of currency fluctuations and strong interpersonal and communication skills, just to name a few. And, Moore added, there is “nowhere to learn but on the job.”

Panelist Kalyana Sundaram Subramaniam of Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Paper Ltd. of India agreed with Moore, saying, “The most difficult job I have ever encountered is waste paper procurement.”

Subramaniam also noted that the term “waste paper,” still in common use in India and the Middle East, is problematic. “We need to admit that,” he said of the confusion caused in the minds of regulators and the public when a product with value is referred to as “waste.”

Panelist Najib Fakih of Saudi Arabia-based WASCO, a subsidiary of Saudi paper and board maker MEPCO, operates 20 collection centers in Saudi Arabia in part to supply furnish to MEPCO containerboard mills.

Fakih said quality is always a concern for mill buyers, with material procured from overseas running the risk of containing excess moisture and nonfiber materials (plastic bottles and aluminum cans) in purchased bales.

Within the Middle East, Fakih said collection networks have largely focused on old corrugated containers (OCC), meaning other valuable grades of paper are going unrecycled. 

Panelist Ahmed Mansoor of Pakistan-based Century Paper & Board Mills Ltd. [http://www.centurypaper.com.pk/] said his company consumes about 140,000 metric tons of recovered paper annually and is committed to using recycled materials. He said Century Paper’s goal involves “replacing straw pulp [as a feedstock] to mitigate environmental pollution.”

Among his challenges as a mill buyer in Pakistan is contending with higher freight costs to bring in recovered fiber from Europe or North America. Mansoor said, “Compared to China and India, we are a small market [with] higher freight costs.”

Mansoor said that as a buyer he avoids purchasing material that was collected and sorted in single-stream systems. “We don’t buy it at all,” he stated. “Things get mixed up and have to be sorted out.”

The 2014 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Middle East was March 4-5 at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai.