Interview with Nilton Saraiva, CEO of Ibema, for Revista Referência Celulose
How was your trajectory until the presidency of Ibema?
Nilton Saraiva – I have a trajectory of almost 30 years in the packaging market. I started at Impressora Paranaense, which was acquired by Dixie Toga and then became Bemis, where I worked in several areas: production, R&D, logistics and sales. I was also responsible for operations in Chile and Argentina, and in my last two years at Bemis, I was Country Manager in Mexico. This experience allowed me to get to know other segments, from paperboard to flexible packaging, through thermoformed and laminated tubes. In 2017, I received the invitation to assume the presidency of Ibema, which I had known for a long time, as a client, and, in these four years, it has been possible to engage the team in many transformations.
What level is the company at today?
Nilton Saraiva - Today Ibema is the third largest paperboard manufacturer in Brazil and fourth in Latin America, with an capacity of 160 thousand tons per year between the plants in Turvo (PR) and Embu das Artes (SP). In recent years, we have created the necessary conditions to open a new investment cycle and we have several projects in progress, on several fronts. Last year, we carried out a study that repositioned our purpose as a packaging company, which expands our market and opens up an avenue of opportunities.
How has the pandemic affected Ibemawork?
Nilton Saraiva - From the beginning, our main concern was to guarantee the safety and health of our employees. Another focus was the supply of our chain, especially for the essential products sectors, such as food and pharmaceuticals. We quickly adapted to the reality of remote work and created all the safety conditions so that our factory team could play this very important role that fell to us: ensuring that our products could reach our customers and become the packaging of essential products. All of this was possible through the creation of a crisis committee, with daily meetings to take specific decisions. In this forum, we frequently carried out rounds of updating the demand forecast and, consequently, adapting our production schedule and purchase of inputs. This same committee took care of safety and health policies, creating actions such as the installation of a disinfection tunnel, meal tents outside the factory and distribution of solidarity meals to partner truck drivers, among others. We also made several donations, including to the Bom Pastor hospital, in the Turvo region, and, together with BO Embalagens, we distributed one million paper cups to hospitals across the country with messages of support for frontline health teams. of the fight against the coronavirus. The committee remains active, monitoring infection rates, the vaccination rate of our employees and ensuring compliance with health and safety policies.
In an article published last year, you informed that 25% of its sales are destined for the international market and focus on growth in this area. Have exports always been important to the company?
Nilton Saraiva - Exports are a fundamental part of our business. We have a historic relationship with Argentina, for example, where we have been selling our products for over 30 years and we are one of the largest suppliers of paperboard. It is because of this solid commercial relationship that we took the decision to open our first commercial office in Buenos Aires, inaugurated in 2021. In addition, we have a consolidated position in major markets such as the United Kingdom, Paraguay and Portugal, in addition to selling to more than 25 countries in almost all continents. With full awareness of our responsibility to supply the Brazilian market, we have great opportunities worldwide.
One of the obstacles to the growth of companies is the raw material. What is the company's situation at this point? Is Ibema self-sustainable?
Nilton Saraiva – Today we buy cellulose, mechanical pulp and shavings for the production of our products. We went through some difficult times at the end of last year and beginning of this year with the supply of eletronic chips, a situation that seems to have normalized in recent months. In addition to the difficulty in supply, our raw materials have risen a lot in price, not only due to demand, but also due to the impact of the exchange rate. On the other hand, in the last two years, we have increased our mechanical pulp production capacity by more than 50%, reducing our dependence on third parties. In this sense, we are becoming increasingly self-sustaining.
How many direct and indirect jobs does the company generate today?
Nilton Saraiva – There are around 700 employees today at Ibema, distributed among our four units – the administrative headquarters located in Curitiba, the direct distribution center in Araucária and the factories installed in the municipalities of Turvo, in Paraná, and in Embu das Artes, in Sao Paulo. In addition, We have approximately 150 third parties that support us in various activities.
Does Ibema work or intend to work in other markets in the wood sector, such as sawmills, use of wood biomass, seedlings or research and development?
Nilton Saraiva – Yes, but in terms of large packaging, there are also not only opportunities in the biomass sector, in other types of potential use to replace plastic. For this, we structured a time of Research, Development and New Business, which we constantly analyze new market opportunities.
What are the novelties brought by Ibema to the packaging market?
Nilton Saraiva – We are deeply committed to the Circular Economy, and proof of this is our product Ibema Ritagli, which is made from 50% recycled material, 30% of which are post-consumer fibers. This card covers all dimensions of ESG (environmental, social and governance) and helps economic and consumer compliance with their sustainability policies and goals. Today, the challenge of the environmental pillar is to make the possibilities economically viable. Ritagli was thinking about this, with a balance between sustainability and efficiency. We are trying to give this product the creation of attractive partnerships with major brands and participating in projects to collect used packaging, such as paper cups. Naturale is another novelty that will be launched in October. With a 100% virgin fiber base and no bleaching agents, it contains fewer chemicals than any other board on the market. The high level of resistance, superior to tops like the Supera and Supera White, is another strength. The longer the card, the less waste is generated. We introduce a new product category to the segment, a very high performance cardboard, with natural use, less chemical and without coating. It is original nature on paper. In addition, the PD and Marketing structure follows the steps of innovation, and integrates the ABTCP innovation network, which searches for new products and paper innovation, which seeks to identify opportunities and propose innovations and initiatives in the search for the feasibility of projects.
Could you explain the plans around the motto "think outside the box"?
Nilton Saraiva – Ibema has always been at the forefront of the development of new cardboard products, as was the case with the paper cup in Latin America. Thinking outside the box is challenging the status quo and envisioning consumer solutions that bring a real benefit to our stakeholders, especially in the midst of sustainable and conscious consumption. This value is widely diffused internally, as is "belief in the role of courage" and "doing it with contact", which together support our purpose of "Packing the Future".
ESG guidelines have been prevalent recently. Are the company's new goals in this regard?
Nilton Saraiva - We created a task force to produce our first sustainable GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) report, which will culminate in a robust document, with information on the company's performance on socio-environmental and governance issues, capable of directing governance in the search for opportunities and new commitments. To ensure the representation and engagement of the entire company, we created a committee with directors and leaders from different areas. We want to be a reference, demonstrate continuity and commitment to the three ESG pillars, both for brand owners and for society as a whole and the market in which we operate. It must be said that, in the environmental area, we have always been at the forefront. I highlight the reduction in water – which is very important in the Ima of water use in recent years, the reduction rates below the consumption of 25% in the use of fluent in the production process and in the generation of Embu das Artes (SP). There, the closed circuit is used and one of the lowest indicators of water consumption found in the production of paperboard. In Turvo, in the interior, Ibema also from Paraná has solutions that reduce water consumption and effluent generation by 15% in the last three years.
In addition to good efficiency results, the renewable energy matrix is more structured than in other countries, with an emphasis on hydroelectric generation. At Ibema's plant in Turvo (PR), we use biomass from wood waste chips in the region, favoring a virtuous cycle of forest use. Among environmental achievements, it is important to highlight examples such as our achievement of the Aterro Zero brand, which is a remarkable achievement. I also highlight Ibema's achievement of the ISO 14,000 seal in 2014, which brings environmental guarantees, references to assistance and a series of company resources.
What does Ibema intend with this ideal of "Packaging the future"?
Nilton Saraiva - By presenting to the market an new branding, at the end of 2020, we confirmed our purposes and, which summarizes the essence of the company: The change, which brought a new market positioning, included a new visual identity and a redesigned website , and brought an innovative dynamic in digital transformation. Our investments in the last three years, including a forecast for 2021, are in the order of BRL 60 million. We are modernizing the industrial park, with the objective of improving industrial efficiency and the acquisition of new products, focusing on digitalization, and prioritizing improvements such as the adoption of the high-tech ERP SAP S/4 HANA, in addition to cutting-edge research and development. so that you are always ahead.
What social actions does Ibema carry out?
Nilton Saraiva - Since 2014, we have had a handicraft social project called IbemArte. In 2017, the initiative received the Sesi ODS Seal (UN Sustainable Development Goals), for its importance and impact among participants.
In addition to providing guidance and support to employees and their families, Ibema assumed its leading role in the sector and led solidarity campaigns since the beginning of the pandemic. A collection of basic baskets went to the communities Única das Faves (CUFA), in need for the city of Araucaria, and we welcome partner partners with food and hygiene kits in Turvo.
A partnership with graphics to develop and make millions of paper cups took messages of support to the clinical staff of hospitals in the fight against covid-19. Ibema has also collaborated with the Bom Pastor Hospital, in the Turvo region (PR), with the monthly and periodic help of PPE (FF2 masks, surgical pajamas, waterproof coveralls, visors, disposable aprons and caps, alcohol 70 and mesh gloves ), as well as laser thermometers, pulse oximeters and drugs to treat Covid-19. In Curitiba, a pulmonary ventilator was donated to Hospital de Clínicas