A global color and specialty chemicals company headquartered in Reinach near Basel, Switzerland, Archroma operates with 3,000 employees over 35 countries and with 25 production sites. The company’s latest innovations and solution systems are aimed at helping packaging and paper manufacturers to optimize productivity and/or create value on their markets.
In an interview given to Paper Mart, Mr. Wai Kit Cheong, Head of Sales, Packaging & Paper Specialties, Asia, Archroma, talks about his company and four new solution systems specifically developed for packaging and paper applications
Paper Mart: Could you tell us a little bit about your company and product portfolio?
Wai Kit Cheong: Archroma is one of the leading chemical suppliers for coloration optical brightening agents and performance chemicals servicing the textile, packaging and paper, constructions, paint and adhesive industries. We have launched four new solution systems specifically developed for packaging and paper applications along the principles of “The Archroma Way: Safe, efficient, enhanced”. The four new solution systems are Bright N’ Safe, Print It Brite, Smart White and Hold Tight. Bright N’ Safe is a system that brings together high whiteness and brightness with food safety for FDA-compliant packaging with improved control and reduced slowdowns in production. Print It Brite is a system that makes our paper white and brighter, our prints sharper and more vibrant, and the production more efficient. Our Smart White is a system for optimizing production even at the highest whiteness level for high quality paper and less resource usage. Hold Tight is a system for improved fiber retention and bonding to create paper that performs cycle after cycle – and to conserve our forests. We have launched these systems in Asia. India happens to be one of the very important markets for Archroma paper.
I recently visited a lot of our customers in India. Two challenges were highlighted by them. The first one is that the local government has started to try to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic bags by replacing them with paper bags. The second one is that some of the paper cup coating is currently using polyethylene; the local government is actually encouraging the industry to use water-based or more sustainable solutions – go for products that are compostable and biodegradable. For the replacement of plastic bags with paper packs, we have our solution called Hold Tight, and we can provide solutions to our customers to use 100 percent recycled fiber while maintaining the paper bag’s strength similar to plastic bags. So, this is one of the very important solutions. A lot of our customers are quite happy with it. Also, we are now working on a couple of projects with some of our customers by providing them with our solutions for the production of paper cups. Briefly then, we help with providing more sustainable end products replacing plastics by paper solutions. Also, we can help make those paper solutions themselves more ecological.
PM: How do you make your paper white and bright?
WKC: When you talk of whiteness and brightness, the overall manufacturing cost is also taken into consideration. Our customers always look for a higher whiteness and a higher brightness from the consumer’s perspective. They always look for higher whiteness and brightness at a reasonable cost. We have been able to introduce our Smart White by helping the customers to achieve the highest whiteness and brightness at an acceptable cost.
PM: Could you tell us about Archroma’s R&D and technical expertise that have helped the company in producing innovative products?
WKC: At the moment, we understand the industry’s challenges. They can be divided into four main categories. The first one is energy saving. It means you produce paper using less steam and fresh water, which means less waste and discharge to the environment. The second one is fiber cost reduction. With our Hold Tight system, we could actually improve upon fiber usage, in terms of producing paper of similar strengths. The third one is increasing the mill’s overall efficiency and productivity. In fact, all our systems can deliver all that. The fourth one is product differentiation. You see, our customers are always looking for added features in order to add value to their products as well as for the consumer. I think one of the challenges in India’s packaging and paper industry is finding alternative solutions to replace plastic bags. Our system can help the industry in moving from plastic bags to paper bags.
PM: In July 2019, Archroma entered into an agreement to acquire BASF’s stilbene-based optical brightening agent (OBA) business for paper and powder detergent applications. Could you elaborate on this acquisition?
WKC: The first thing is that we are very excited about it. This acquisition would help us to strengthen our supply of optical brightening agents in Asia, particularly in India. It also extends our product portfolio on the detergent market. And then, we believe that by combining it with our work expertise in textile we would be able to offer a broader portfolio on the detergent market.
PM: As we move into the future, what challenges do you think the pulp and paper industry is facing?
WKC: One of the biggest challenges is to further encourage the recycling rate of paper in order to protect nature so that we can make use of recycled fiber to produce paper for maintaining the same quality and functionality of paper products. So, moving forward, fiber sourcing is one of the biggest challenges. I always support recycling and separation of waste – activities that would push the recycling rate of paper. These activities would surely help our industry a great deal. Furthermore, in the tissue paper segment, in the past, a lot of tissue paper was made using virgin fiber. Nowadays, we see a lot of tissue paper being made using recycled fiber. This is also another way to preserve and protect nature and our forests.
Discharge of waste water or effluents is another challenge that the industry currently faces. Our four newly launched systems can reduce chemical loadings, the volume of discharged waste and the use of fresh water. So, indirectly, our systems can reduce the volume of discharged effluents.
PM: Don’t you think tissue paper made from recycled paper is qualitatively not as good as the tissue paper made from virgin fiber?
WKC: Today’s technology has been able to bring recycled fiber-made tissue paper qualitatively closer to virgin fiber-made tissue paper. Quality here means softness and the tensile strength of the tissue paper. We do have a series of systems as well to help our tissue paper makers to produce better quality tissue paper using recycled fiber.
PM: What are your future targets?
WKC: We are going to launch more solution systems along the principles of “The Archroma Way” to help packaging and paper manufacturers to optimize productivity and/or create value on their markets.
PM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
WKC: We would like to work hand in hand with the paper and packaging industry as well as publishers to work together to create more public awareness about how to reduce wastages and how to increase the rate of recycling. We have system solutions that can help mills in these areas.