Some paper industry segments still have room to grow in the Middle East.
The word “emerging” is not often attached to the paper industry in the developed world, but delegates at the 2013 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Middle East learned that there are still paper-related growth opportunities in that part of the world.
At the “Resilient Fibre” plenary session, moderator Atul Kaul, director of pulp and paper at WARAQ Arab Paper Manufacturing Co., based in Saudi Arabia, said the overall paper recycling rate in the region may be just 30 percent. Although “incremental collection grows with incremental costs,” according to Kaul.
Presenter Richard Ellis, manager of operations at Saudi Paper Manufacturing Co. (SPMC), Damman, Saudi Arabia, said paper makers in Saudi Arabia face many challenges, including procuring recovered fiber, dealing with protectionist trade laws and treaties, securing adequate utility services, making adequate port arrangements and bringing in talented and knowledgeable technicians from vendors.
Nonetheless, Ellis said Saudi Paper has made great strides and is now collecting around 450,000 metric tons of recovered fiber, including 200,000 tons of old corrugated containers (OCC), 150,000 tons of office paper and 100,000 tons of old newspapers (ONP).
The tissue producer also is looking to increase its annual production capacity from 125,000 tons per year to 185,000 tons, said Ellis.
Obeikan Paper Industries Co., a packaging paper manufacturing company also based in Saudi Arabia, is expanding so it will soon produce 250,000 tons per year of duplex board at its mill in Riyadh, according to Obeikan’s Mohammed Ahmed Al-Mowkley.
Both Ellis and Al-Mowkley noted that fiber generated within the Middle East can contain significant amounts of sand and dust. While this harms yield, Al-Mowkley said that “technology selection” at the screening and pulping stage can still render this scrap paper usable.
Technology selection can also “maximize our flexibility,” said Al-Mowkley, meaning Obeikan can use brown grades, white grades or mixed paper as feedstock.
Presenter PK Mukundan of the Indian Agro & Recycled Paper Mills Association said his Delhi-based organization represents “75 percent of Indian paper production.”
He said the Indian paper industry consists of some 850 paper mills that consume about 12.5 million metric tons per year of recovered fiber. Currently, recycled-content market share is 49 percent of India’s paper production, up from 30 percent in 2000, according to Mukundan.
Regarding scrap paper collection in India, Mukundan maintained there is plenty of room to grow, as just 27 percent of discarded paper is collected in a way that will send it to a domestic mill. The remainder, he noted, is often used as wrapping paper or packaging.
Whether that 27 percent figure is ultimately accurate can be difficult to ascertain, Mukundan acknowledged, because some 95 percent of scrap paper is collected in an “unorganized” system that does not involve recycling centers or plants.
The 2013 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Middle East, co-hosted by the Recycling Today Media Group and Waste & Recycling Middle East magazine, was March 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Dubai.