'Forest of chips' brings opportunity to leverage ESG in industry In an article, commercial director Júlio Guimarães explains the concept of the Forest of Chips and its importance at Ibema.
The protection of the environment is supported today by three pillars: the consumer, who prefers products packaged with sustainability; legislation, which increasingly signals to manufacturers of consumer goods that it is necessary to prove what they recycle; and the industry, which has the opportunity to look, think and bring alternatives to the community and remain competitive. In other words: we are facing a collective challenge that requires protagonism and passion for solutions.
For us in the industry, by associating recyclable packaging with income generation for families of collectors, we meet ESG requirements and actively contribute to generating family income and improving the quality of life of these workers. By listening to our stakeholders and fulfilling our environmental, social and governance commitment, we also open the door to negotiating more accessible lines of credit.
But let's go to the fundamental question today: which is the best paper, the one with virgin fiber or recycled? When we take care of the consumer's increasingly present desire to buy packaging made of recycled material, we realize the “two-way” path that paper manufacturers can follow. On the one hand, virgin fiber is necessary for packaging with direct contact with food, for example, but also because it starts the paper recycling cycle. On the other hand, the boxes and bags already used, added to the scraps and leftovers from the printers, make up new rolls of recycled paper that will continue the production cycle.
Whoever produces virgin fiber has the advantage of having global standards for forest management and preservation, which, technically speaking, increases the performance, rigidity and printability of the packaging, in addition to ensuring care for the environment. The recycled paper industries have specialized audits to certify that their paper is derived from scraps coming from recyclers, who return to the market through sustainable packaging.
Today we have, side by side, the already known forests of trees and an immensity of “forests of shavings”, which make recyclable waste a real treasure. They reduce the volume of landfills and stop polluting the biodiversity of rivers and seas. Instead, that treasure becomes a new commodity. This chain is already priced by some startups linked to the recycling sector.
Our current challenge is to offer both the virgin fiber option, necessary to start the paper cycle, and packaging made from recycled paperboard that performs well in the printer, lightweight and composed with sustainable amounts of virgin fibers. In addition, consumers can also participate in this sustainable journey and encourage collection in their condominium, restaurants and consumption points. Then, in a self-sustaining chain, we will bring back into the production cycle the packages that have already been used.
This means fostering an innovation mindset throughout the process, with a necessary balance between linear and circular economy. After all, the view of finite resources as the only way of economic growth is in check, and we cannot remain stagnant in old methods. I am sure that, in this way, we will be an example and shape the future of recycling in Brazil and in the world.