BRUSSELS, Jan. 17, 2012 (RISI) -PPI
recently sat down to talk with Teresa Presas - probably the most well known person in the European industry. Her role is as the director general of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), but her day-to-day job certainly does not confine her to Europe; in our conversation she refers to her extensive travels in countries including China, Brazil and India... the list of speaking engagements and plant visits is a long one, signalling that actually, even on other continents, Presas commands a pretty large audience as well. We met at the 13th European Paper Week which attracted its own audience of well over 300 people from the pulp and paper industry around Europe and beyond. In fact, it could be said that anybody who is anybody in the European industry was at the event, including a raft of CEOS and directors and board members from the big, medium and smaller companies, as well a host of industry representatives including merchants, consultants, machine manufacturers and other suppliers.
The 2011 event followed the same format as usual, with three days of presentations, debates and events to highlight CEPI's obvious deep connection with many aspects of the pulp and paper industry in Europe. But probably the most important of the presentations for 2011 was the launch of the Unfold the Future - 2050 Roadmap to a low-carbon bio-economy, a 42-page document that CEPI says attempts to lay out the future of the forest fiber industry and its potential to meet future consumer demands, stay competitive and deliver an 80% CO2emission reduction over the next 40 years.
Presas explains the 2050 document further: "This roadmap is just the start of the debate, and is in no way an action plan. It shows a direction for evolving business models within pulp and paper, whether they are virgin or recycled businesses. It shows that there are many ways to add value on to what pulp and papermakers are doing right now; this is no longer about simply bales or pallets of paper, it is about everything that is being used and concentrating on the health of the business going forward. It is a holistic exploration into the future of our sector, an industry pathway".
This all sounds quite poetic, but surely what it really means is spending a lot of money on emissions reductions in Europe, while the rest of the world gets left alone to make pulp and paper without the looming threat of a tax on emissions?
"Actually no, what we are asking our industry members to do is to really think ahead about plans for the future," says Presas. "For example: are there ways to create more synergy when building new mills or plants - for instance sharing facilities with other divisions within the company, or even with competitors? An illustration of this would be a cluster which would have at its center a biorefinery, using either recovered or virgin fiber to produce paper, surrounded by a number of satellite businesses, which would all be piggybacking off each other, using residues and waste products as raw material for other products. In Hungary there is an industrial complex that suggests that model in the sense that three paper mills share waste water systems and energy generation".
|Teresa Presas has worked in the paper industry since 1982 when she joined Tetra Pak Portugal as Director of Communication and Marketing Services. She later went on to become Director of Communication and Environment for Tetra Pak Europe, Middle East and Africa and then, Vice President of European Affairs for Tetra Pak Europe and Director of Corporate Environmental Affairs for Tetra Pak International. She has been the Director General of CEPI since September 2003. In 2006 Presas was also elected President of the ICFPA (International Council of Forest and Paper Associations). In 2008 she received an honorary doctorate from the Helsinki University of Technology.
Breakthrough technologies - suppliers: get your skates on
Looking at the figures in more depth, CEPI has concluded that if the industry continues on its way as it is at the moment - with the right circumstances, investment patterns and current and emerging technologies - it will hit a target of a 50% reduction in CO2by 2050, which is quite impressive on its own. However the European Commission's own Roadmap states that there must be an industrial reduction of 80% by 2050 to be really effective in the battle against climate change.
So where is the other 30% going to come from? Presas explains: "We need the breakthrough technologies, and we need a collaborative and collective approach by both the producers and the suppliers. We need to learn from other industries how to work together and how to maximize ways to stimulate research and innovate on both large and small projects. The European Commission is right behind all of this, and there is a huge political focus.
"And yes, the suppliers really have to get their skates on and start delivering new technologies," emphasizes Presas. "This is not just about new, faster, wider, bigger machines for China, this is about breakthrough technologies that reduce energy, that cut emissions and ultimately make production facilities a lot more efficient and therefore, hopefully, more profitable".
And the pressure really is on for suppliers to the industry, Marco Mensink, CEPI's deputy director general said at Paper Week: "There are only 40 years between now and 2050 for breakthrough technologies to have an effect, which leaves 10 years for concepts, 10 years for design, 10 years for testing and 10 years for effective production".
|CEPI has caused quite a stir in the corridors of power within the European Commission with the 2050 Roadmap, and even Connie Hedegaard, Climate Action Commissioner, made an appearance at Paper Week - albeit by video (she could not appear in person as she was summoned to Washington for an emergency meeting relating to the recent Climate Summit in Durban South Africa). But it turns out, that the pulp and paper industry in Europe, through CEPI, is the first energy intensive industry to produce a Roadmap in response to the Commission’s call for industry specific documents. Hedegaard said: “The CEPI Roadmap presents a vision of a thriving European bio-economic sector that highlights the opportunities that the low carbon economy will bring while at the same time addressing its challenges. It presents a vision that your industry is going to be part of the solution”.
The future of paper
All this discussion about 40 years ahead and the year 2050 automatically assumes that the pulp and paper industry will be in great shape all those years away - as we already know in Europe, it might be a completely different landscape a few years from now. At Paper Week, CEPI organized a panel of four young people - up the age of early 20s - who gave their opinion on how they felt about paper - and it was predominantly good. In fact it was a very interesting forum that dispelled some preconceived ideas. Presas says: "I think our panel with the youngsters says it all about young people and their views of paper. It seems that it is us that continually talk negatively, when actually it turns out that young people, middle aged people, old people are not looking at paper in a negative way at all. The fact is there is a lot of talk about children and young people not reading newspapers anymore, did they ever? I don't remember carrying around a big newspaper when I was a youngster!
"But the fact is, yes, of course the paper industry is changing, and is being affected by change, but moaning and complaining that newspapers are not being read and graphic paper sales keep going down is not going to fix anything," continues Presas. "The industry really has to step up here, in fact I would use three words, Innovate, Innovate, Innovate. There is more than one way to create value than just out of making a piece of paper - and this is where the Roadmap comes in. If you want to have a future, you have to be strategic, and in the case of pulp and paper, we have to become vital, not just for ourselves, but for everybody out there that needs the fantastic products the industry makes, whether it is paper, tissue, packaging, bio fuels or bioenergy."
CEPI also took the opportunity at Paper Week to launch its Sustainability Report for 2011, a compelling 78 page report on the very positive side of the pulp and paper industry as it goes about being an essential player in the bio-economy in Europe. Presas comments: "The Sustainability Report really highlights the fact that we are not a sunset industry that there is an enormous potential future, and that we are growing. It is important for politicians and other industry members to be aware of this".
|CEPI held a forum at Paper Week in which a panel of young people were questioned about their opinions on paper. It turns out that graphic and writing paper is still viewed by young people as an essential part of everyday life. CEPI recently released a survey it carried out among 734 young Europeans between the ages of 16 and 26. Called Millenial Survey on Paper Use and Consumption the survey asked some pertinent questions ie: Could they live without paper? 80.5% said they could not live without such a vital product. The full survey and results can be found athttp://www.CEPI.org
Europe: a future showcase of papermaking technology?
So what inspiring message could Presas give to the industry as the head of CEPI as Europe goes through uncertain times: "These are very difficult times, and not just for the paper industry, but I am not the pessimistic type. The only way forward in this industry is to stay united and look as a whole at our collective interests. You probably won't find this in any other trade association, the way we get regular meetings with the top CEOs in the region, thrashing out plans, pioneering the way ahead, and trying to turn what is a unique industry into a much more strategic one".
Talking of CEOs, Berry Wiersum, CEO of Sappi Fine Paper Europe is the outgoing chairman of CEPI, and incoming for the role is UPM's CEO Jussi Pesonen. Presas says: "We always have an excellent chairman, and Berry has simply done a fantastic job in the role over the last two years, and I am delighted to welcome Jussi Pesonen who has already stated that he just wants to "make the Roadmap happen" and continue the push".
Clearly CEPI's hard work in putting together the Roadmap for 2050 is being recognized in all the important places of power in the industry, and it could just be exactly the type of long term plan the European industry needs to secure its future. It could also mean that the region shifts from being seen as a developed market with low future potential to one of showcase hi-tech industry and an example to the world for the future of papermaking.