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Lenzing Papier - uniquely green

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Lenzing Papier - uniquely green

July 18, 2010 - 16:00
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BRUSSELS, July 19, 2010 (RISI) -PPIinterviewed Ernst Brunbauer, CEO, Lenzing Papier at the mill located in the stunning Salzkammergut region, a pristine tourist destination in Austria. Brunbauer started his career with Neusiedler in Austria in paper production, followed by a management position at Brigl & Bergmeister as technical director. He then became member of the board and COO of former Trierenberg Holding, a global player in cigarette and thin printing papers. In March 2008 Brunbauer became CEO of Lenzing Papier.
Ernst Brunbauer, CEO, Lenzing Papier

PPI: Can you tell us what paper and board the company supplies that comes under the label of ‘environmentally friendly' and where it goes to?

Brunbauer: Lenzing Papier was the first recycled paper producer to launch a carbon neutral, recycled paper - Impact - which is like all other Lenzing products marketed and sold world-wide. Further papers out of our recycled range are Lenza Green, Lenza Care or Lenza Top recycled papers. Our products are mainly being used for offset, digital and copier applications to produce annual reports, advertisements, books and the like.

Can you tell us the reason why you market your products as environmentally friendly? What attributes do your products have over say a ‘virgin' fiber mill producing similar grades?

Lenzing Papier is in a favorable position regarding all environmental aspects due to the leading edge technologies available in Lenzing. Life cycle analyses have continuously proven that the impact on the environment of recycled paper is superior to virgin fiber production. Studies demonstrate that fewer resources like energy, water and production materials are needed. Nevertheless I want to state, that paper is sustainable by nature and virgin fibers are needed to maintain a satisfying quality level of recovered fibers.

What are your specific growth areas?

The specific growth areas are white and clean uncoated recycled papers as well as recycled coated papers for wide format printing.

Can you talk about any technology that you have installed that has made a difference to the environmental footprint?

Our set-up is quite unique. On the energy-side we are integrated with a dissolving pulp mill that produces not just pulp but also several side products like furfural, acetic acid and Xylosis. The pulp mill set-up gives an excellent yield of the wood chip input and delivers a steam and electricity surplus, which is utilized in the whole industrial complex. On the fiber side, Lenzing Papier is integrated with a deinking plant that supplies the paper mill with clean and bright fibers. There is no need for intermediate drying and transportation of deinked pulp, as it is used directly at the mill and in combination with the generated energy leading to very low fossil carbon emissions.

The sophisticated waste-water treatment also deserves a mention. Due to the factory location near a very popular tourist area, the environmental pressures have always been high on Lenzing. We are also proud of the fact that there is no landfill, as waste materials are re-used; residues from production processes are converted into energy in specific incineration plants.

As you have mentioned, the Lenzing mill is located in a very beautiful holiday resort area in Upper Austria, can you tell us about the mill at its relations with the local community?

We enjoy a good relationship with the surrounding communities, as there is very little odor or noise being emitted from the plants. Lenzing AG is welcome as a significant taxpayer contributing to community budgets, enabling them to maintain a good infrastructure, schools, streets and sports facilities.

What is on your wish list to make the mill even more environmentally friendly?

We have programs in place to continuously reduce energy and water consumption. We would like to see progress in drying technologies which are more energy efficient than today's technologies. With printing technologies becoming significant, like ink-jet printing, more challenges for deinking processes are to come.

Do you feel that being perceived as a ‘green' producer has increased the appeal for the mill's products? Do you think it has been commercially beneficial?

Today's consumers whether corporate or private ones are increasingly aware of the importance of environmental matters and do appreciate products that reduce the impact on nature. Up until today we have been able to increase our share in recycled products and we hope to see this trend continuing.

Can you increase the price because of the ‘green premium'?

The type of products we are producing are more costly than the production of similar virgin grades. Therefore prices are slightly higher, which does not necessarily mean higher margins. We have always tried to keep price volatility as low as possible.

Some industry commentators say that recycled papers are actually worse for the environment because of the energy involved in the process. What is your opinion?

I would like to draw the attention of those people to studies that speak a clear language in favor of recycled paper products.

On the subject of energy, is the mill self sufficient, and does it put anything back into the local grid?

The whole industrial complex is self sufficient on the electricity side and has to use some fossil sources for certain processes, e.g. to support incineration of sludge.

Can you tell us about your water usage, where it comes from and how much you use?

Our water source is the small river leaving the major lake of the area, the Attersee, which has drinking water quality. There is no need to process the water before using it in production. Our water consumption including deinking amounts to approximately 15 liters per kg of paper.

What do you see as the main challenges ahead a) for the recycled industry in Europe, and b) for the paper industry as a whole in Europe and the rest of world.

The biggest challenge for the European recycled industry is to get the right quality at the right price. Huge waste paper quantities are being imported by Chinese paper makers, strong demand pushes prices to unhealthy levels. Traditional virgin paper producers are entering the recycled graphical market, overestimating the real demand. We are all aware that the European paper industry and the rest of the world are facing overcapacities in a number of paper grades increasing the pressure for consolidation.

Do you see new technology in the shape of ICT, (electronic media, e-readers etc) as a threat to the long term future of the industry?

Electronic media will definitely have an impact on paper consumption and on the market share of paper grades. Digital printing technologies are becoming increasingly important, developments of inks and printers will further reduce the demand for speciality grades.

What are your long term plans at Lenzing Papier, do you see expansion and growth at a company level? Any acquisitions looming, or new additions at the plant?

Our long term plans are to further develop our paper machine capacity and to adjust the deinking plant for recovered papers that are difficult to treat, for instance like ink jet papers.

Describe why you think paper is good for the planet

Paper is a wonderful material that is made from renewable sources. It is a carrier of information, it is used as a packaging material, it is durable, it is versatile, it is recyclable, it is easy to use and it does not need any batteries. Paper is simply natural and continues to have huge inherent potential for creative applications.

The Lenzing Papier mill has been operating at Lenzing, Austria, since 1892 when it was founded by industrialist Emil Hamburger. The company now prides itself on its ongoing environmental record, in both production activities, and in the products it makes, namely 100% recycled copier and printing paper, as well as poster papers and envelopes. Around 85,000 tonnes/yr of paper and board are produced at the mill, which has 140 employees. The products are sold worldwide, with the main markets being Germany, Switzerland and the UK. It also exports to Mexico, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and China.
The environment is high up on the Lenzing Papier agenda, including its energy sources with bio-fuel and residues comprising 86.3% CO2 neutral, which is made up of 43% black liquor, 30% residues/sludge and 13% bark/sawdust. Fossil fuels used in production account for just 13.7%, made up of 7% coal, 6% natural gas and 1% oil. The mill has also attained numerous environmental accreditations, including the Nordic Ecolabel, German Blue Angel, NAPM Recycled and FSC mixed sources and FSC recycled certifications.
Lenzing Papier is 40% owned by the Lenzing Group, and 60% owned by Dachstein Papier.