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Big growth trend for the box business

Germany – ‘E-commerce has proved to be a mega-trend with far-reaching consequences. For one, less paper is needed to print catalogues. But more importantly, a much greater volume of packaging is needed to ship all the products to consumers,’ said Jörg Hempel at the bvse’s annual paper recycling conference in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The global cardboard box and container market was worth almost US$ 500 billion in 2014, with ‘steady growth’ expected in the years to 2022, according to a new market outlook from Grand View Research. This uptrend has been confirmed by International Paper Co., which reported a first-quarter profit increase of almost 7% to US$ 334 million owing largely to its North American sales of cardboard boxes for consumer goods. The company says it witnessed growth of 1.3% in the box business last year.

‘With the growing amount of packaging coming in, I think there will soon be a shift in the recycling sector,’ said Jörg Hempel of German foundation PTS Papiertechnik. ‘Recyclers are already focusing more on packaging,’ he commented. ‘Now the question is whether we must set up special systems designed to treat this growing waste stream.’

‘A smart move’

With the paper and particularly the newsprint sectors showing declines, this could be ‘a very smart move’, Hempel suggested. But equipment installations should take new packaging features such as multi-layering into account. ‘So what it comes down to is quality and how best to ensure high-quality bales,’ he observed.

He cited a ‘state-of-the-art’ pilot project launched recently in Australia with the help of Finnish equipment manufacturer HAARLA. This revolves around the Balemat II, a new-generation, automated, drill-type bale testing system which is running 24/7 and has the capacity accurately to measure the quality of 100 000 individual bales per year. Each measurement takes less than one minute.

‘Simple procedure’

The basic system configuration relies on what is claimed to be ‘the best NIR analytics available on the market’ and has optional remote control via a radio system. Firstly, a forklift pushes the bales against a buffer on the ground. This ‘simple procedure’ ensures, for example, bale positioning, direction of the bale, direction of the binding wires, a non-slip surface for the bale, protection against rain and the required measuring sensor calibration. Bale position and size are determined and the material is then tested with a high-power driller with a sensor developed by PTS Papiertechnik.

‘The measuring data are automatically forwarded,’ Hempel pointed out. The double-area system is capable of handling 400-500 bales per day depending on their content, he added. The system automatically calibrates data for parameters such as moisture, plastics, fibres and ash. ‘The results are promising and so has been the response,’ Hempel declared. ‘We are currently building a system like this for Smurfit Kappa in Roermond, the Netherlands.’

‘Dare to act tough’

Fellow speaker Guillermo Vallés of Spanish recycler SAICA Paper stressed the importance attached by his company to taking samples from 100% of the loads to guarantee high-quality bales mostly sourced from Italy, Portugal and the domestic market. ‘We do not refuse loads,’ he said. ‘We do randomised sampling to get the most honest reading.’ SAICA Paper also prefers the drilling technique with automatic NIR analysis.

‘All in all, sampling takes in total one minute per lorry,’ he told delegates. Vallés advocated penalising suppliers if there is more than 10% moisture content and also if there are more than 1.5% non-paper components in a bale. ‘I don’t want to make it my business to fight with my business partners, but we simply have to be able to rely on them for good material,’ he argued.

‘Sometimes, you have to put pressure on your suppliers to reap long-term results. Only when you dare to act tough will you successfully send the message that will make the suppliers work harder to improve the quality of paper they send to you.’

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