Yesterday, Sunday 5 June, we celebrated World Environment Day. For us, it is an important day to celebrate because it is thanks to the environment that we can continue to enjoy our surroundings. Every day at Papresa, we take more and more steps to protect it and reduce our carbon footprint. We must now take all the necessary actions to ensure that future generations can continue to live on our planet.
To celebrate World Environment Day, we wanted to sit down with Lorena Alzaga, our Environment Manager, to find out more about our strategy in this area and about the actions our company is taking to remain committed to our environment.
Lorena, before we begin, could you explain to us how we understand sustainability at Papresa?
For us, sustainability is the balance between industry and the environment we live in. Sustainability is synonymous with respect and coexistence with the place we carry out our activity. By environment, we mean ecosystem, neighbours, environment, employees, suppliers, customers, authorities and all stakeholders.
What is the link between sustainability and the company’s purpose and values?
The concept of our business is to recycle waste paper and give it a new life so that it can be reused in different applications and paper types: AIA Print for newsprint and printing paper and AIA Nature for the entire packaging sector. We manufacture 100% recycled paper. Our purpose is to be a significant part of the circular economy.
Starting with urban waste from the blue bin, we obtain a 100% recycled and 100% recyclable product that can be recycled again under the most demanding quality standards and comply with all current regulations.
Due to the rise of e-commerce, among other factors, the paper sector is one of the sectors that are most urgently having to implement changes in its business to reduce its environmental impact. Given this context, what is Papresa’s current commitment?
Our primary commitment is the change of product that we have made, focusing part of the production on paper for packaging that allows us to manufacture, mainly cardboard boxes and diverse packaging. These changes are possible thanks to the significant investments we are making in the most modern and efficient facilities to manufacture the best paper with the best technology available in the sector.
From your point of view, is sustainability in business an obligation or a commitment?
I would summarise it more as a responsibility we have towards our environment, our host environment, and the natural resources we use. We should take care of the resources used in our companies, from the tangible: water, energy and products to the more delicate and valuable: our people. I firmly believe that a sustainable future is based on empathy and generosity with what surrounds us. Nothing is sustainable if we don’t take care of who we are.
What are the main sustainability initiatives we are implementing at Papresa?
We are further closing the circle of paper recycling by investing in constructing an anaerobic water purification tower. We will generate biogas after reducing the pollutant load of the wastewater, which will be used as biofuel in the boilers that generate steam for the manufacture of paper. In other words, we will develop new paper from waste with the minimum environmental impact by implementing an innovative technology at Papresa.
And what are the ones we are working on so that they can be applied in the future?
We are working on many projects of different applications, such as fibre recovery and energy efficiency improvement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Ultimately, we are looking at business sustainability and helping to curb climate change.
How do we measure the value or positive impact of all these projects?
Depending on the impact of each project, or the area it influences, we have general or more specific indicators to evaluate the improvements obtained. In addition, we have several certificates to guarantee the correct application of all measures and impacts. We have ISO140001 and EMAS standards for environmental management and ISO 50001 for energy management.
The paper industry is the largest consumer of fibre in the world. What types of fibre do we use in our production process?
All our paper comes from paper or cardboard recovered mainly from the selective collection of the blue bin. None of our products come from vegetable fibres obtained by cutting down trees. In our case, we use 100% recycled cellulose fibre.
How far are we towards a more sustainable future?
At the beginning of a new stage, a new Papresa. We want to move towards a sustainable future, respecting our environment, valuing our work as recyclers and above all, manufacturing a 100% recycled and 100% chlorine-free product. Cutting-edge, efficient, state-of-the-art facilities allow us to move steadily towards a future with guarantees.
How do you see the sector in five years?
The paper sector adapts to change in a very agile way; it is a flexible sector that is open to trying out nascent technologies that improve all processes. Our sector is in constant evolution, in continuous change; it is an innovative sector that is firmly committed to green energies and seeks to become a sustainable company.
And, as in recent months, perhaps the energy part has been very relevant. Maybe I foresee the sector focusing on the energy part in five years, looking for alternatives to minimise CO2 emissions and testing solutions based on new energy models.