Monday, September 06, 2010

Making ‘green’ paper out of junk

Making ‘green’ paper out of junk
By Corrie Salientes-Narisma
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 5, 2010

They call themselves “junkies,” for they depend 100 percent on junk for their company’s operations.

These are the people of paper mill United Pulp and Paper Co. in SCG Paper (UPPC in SCG), one of the country’s five major producers of industrial grade corrugating medium paper and liner boards—the materials used in the production of packaging products.

Leading the pack of “junkies” is company president and CEO Montri Mahaplerkpong, who takes pride in the fact that UPPC in SCG, despite all the waste and junk in its midst, is one of the greenest, if not the greenest, firms in the country.

UPPC is a subsidiary of SCG Paper, a member company of the Siam Cement Group of Thailand. It entered the local scene in 1996 by acquiring initially 30 percent of UPPC, then largely-owned by the Phinma group of the Del Rosarios. In 2004, SCG Paper bought 100 percent of UPPC.

Although the paper mill was a going concern at that time, Mahaplerkpong says SCG had to start from scratch as it had to convert the plant’s operations from one that depends on virgin pulp to one that uses recycled materials, as practiced by the parent firm in Thailand and its other operations overseas. It also had to increase the paper mill’s capacity of 50,000 tons to what it is now.

SCG infused P5 billion into UPPC to put everything in place—production facility, recycling line, power generator and boiler—before it was able to operate the plant.

Thinking, living “green”

Mahaplerkpong says UPPC in SCG now survives and thrives on gathering various types of waste and recycling them. It churns out 240,000 tons of corrugated medium and liner board a year and for this, it uses about the same amount of waste paper and cartons.
Hundreds of people collect the different kinds of waste and deliver them to the baling stations owned by the company all over Luzon. Waste products are then segregated, treated for contamination and recycled.

The energy and steam requirements of its manufacturing complex in Calumpit, Bulacan are supplied by its own power generation facility that runs 30 percent on sludge, wood chips, rice husks and other materials made into biomass and used as fuel. Even the contamination removed from the waste paper and the company’s own waste goes to the boiler for power and steam generation.

The firm also has a state-of-the-art facility that treats the water that it uses.

‘Green’ world
In this company, Mahaplerkpong says, nothing goes to waste and UPPC in SCG ensures that whatever additives it uses in its operations contain no hazardous materials.

He says the firm also makes sure it contributes no sludge to the landfill under its “Zero Sludge to Landfill Project.”

The Philippine unit, he adds, operates in line with SCG Paper’s vision of a “green world.”

Its efforts did not go unnoticed. It has won numerous awards for its environmentally sound practices. It recently earned for its liner board the Green Choice Seal from the National Eco-labelling Program-Green Choice Philippines, making UPPC in SCG the 15th company to receive the seal of approval in the country.

It was granted the Silver Rating Award under the Regional Industrial EcoWatch Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the quality of its air emission and water effluent.

UPPC in SCG was declared Candidate Master for its systems compliance and best practices in waste management in the Zero Basura Olympics (ZBO) for Business, a joint project of Earth Day Network Philippines Inc., Philippine Business for Social Progress, Philippine Business for the Environment and the Pollution Control Association of the Philippines. It was also named Champion of Reuse/Recyling for its 100-percent use of recycled paper and “Zero Sludge to Landfill” project.

Money from trash
Its community project also revolves around waste and focuses on the preservation of the environment, conservation of natural resources and pollution reduction. Not only does UPPC in SCG cultivate environmental awareness in the communities where it operates, it also teaches them how to make money out of trash.

It maintains and supports the so-called Community Eco Boys who collect waste from households and trash bins in various areas. The collected waste is brought to eco centers and segregated. Paper waste is bought from the Eco Boys for recycling while the others go to the boiler.

Mahaplerkpong says each barangay covered makes about P50, 000 a month from trash, or P5,000 to P7,000 per eco boy.

“We link our CSR (corporate social responsibility) program with our business to make business not only for ourselves but for the beneficiaries, too,” he says.

Most, if not all, the paper mills in the country have shifted to using recycled papers in their operations but Mahaplerkpong says UPPC in SCG started it all in the country.

“The bigger challenge now is to inspire and motivate many more to join in the movement.”


UPPC in SCG operates under the strictest terms and philosophy of its parent company.

“In the past, businesses focused on products with the aim of producing the best goods. This later became customer-centered, giving the market what it demanded. Now it is people-centric, which means that in doing business, one needs to care not only for customers but also for all the people around you and your environment,” he says.

Many businesses are realizing this now, he says, but as more paper mills go the “green” way, certain problems start cropping up. For one, Mahaplerkpong says the supply of waste paper is falling short and the cost is getting high.

He says there is not much waste paper and cartons in the country that UPPC in SCG has to import at least 10 percent of its requirements. It is not so much a problem of shortage in supply, it is more of the improper disposal of waste paper in the country, resulting in the very low recovery rate.

To widen its sources of waste paper, the company intends to increase the number of its baling stations from 11 to 15 this year and, later, to 30.

It is investing P1 billion in a new boiler and is exploring the possibilities of increasing its biomass use in generating electricity from 30 percent to 50 percent. It is also putting up a big warehouse for its raw materials.

Mahaplerkpong, who rejoined the parent firm back in Thailand early this month, has big dreams for UPPC in SCG and he is confident these dreams will be pursued by the company, with or without him.