Many companies now offer products that are made from recycled materials. But this doesn‘t go far enough for envoPAP. With the aim of giving the world's tree population a great deal more protection, the Anglo-Indian company has developed a unique technology to produce paper and packaging products from agro-waste materials. In this interview, Stephan Gutowski, Managing Director, tells us more about envoPAP's products and why the company decided to take part in Insights-X 2021.
2021 will be your first time as an exhibitor at Insights-X. How did you become aware of the trade fair?
I joined envoPAP last year, after having worked in the paper and media sector for more than 20 years. As a visitor, I‘ve been to Insights-X several times and have enjoyed making a lot of contacts and business partners there, especially in the school sector. In this respect, taking part in Insights-X as an exhibitor was a no brainer.
What do you hope to achieve by participating in Insights-X?
First and foremost, of course, customer contacts. You get to meet familiar customers and are always interested in meeting new ones. We are already established in the Indian and Pacific regions. We‘re also already selling very well in the Australian, Arab and African markets. In Europe, too, particularly in the UK, where we‘re headquartered, we have been able to gain quite a number of partners. As Germany is the largest market for paper in Europe, trade fair participation plays a central role for us here. We have always come out of past events in a very strong position, with an incredible number of new leads, and have been able to generate good business from them. We‘re hoping to get the same from Insights-X. After Paperworld was cancelled this year, we would like to take the opportunity to present ourselves in Nuremberg in October.
What does envoPAP stand for?
We aim to replace plastic and virgin fibre with products that are completely made from agro-waste materials and can also be reintegrated straight into the recycling loop. The demand for paper is very high across Europe, but particularly in Germany. Sit down in a park and count 50 trees and then imagine that – instead of the trees – there are suddenly two pallets of photocopying paper there; that’s about 400 packets. Because that is roughly the amount of paper you can get from 50 trees. Basically, cutting down trees makes no sense, especially since we have alternatives: we can replace paper from wood by using only agro-waste materials. Paper production has always evolved as far as the raw material itself is concerned. From papyrus, animal skins and linen to the paper of today made from wood. For the paper market, envoPAP is something like Beyond Meat: a new, more sustainable alternative for an existing product. We won’t solve the climate crisis with it, but we can at least contain it.
How exactly do you manufacture your products?
To make our products, we use agro-waste materials, pressed sugar cane, wheat, rice and a certain kind of reed – stuff that would otherwise be burnt off in the fields. After harvesting, what is then left in the field is transported to the nearby paper mill, where it’s processed into bagasse, ground and finally pressed into paper. Due to the way the product is made, we can only produce it in India, because neither sugar cane nor the reed that we require to make our packaging products stable grows in Germany. With our production, however, we are generating an additional source of income for Indian farmers who wouldn‘t otherwise be able to sell the leftover products.
Which products can be made with envoPAP technology?
We started 5 years ago with photocopying paper. In the meantime, however, we offer a much broader portfolio of products – including offset printing paper in various sizes and thicknesses and a lot of products in the packaging sector. With our technology, we can replace about 90% of all products made of traditional paper, such as magazines, journals, but also exercise books, cards and calendars. At the moment, for example, we‘re in contact with a large school book publisher with whom we‘d like to produce school books made from our paper in the future. But our materials are also used outside the stationery industry. For example, we produce the boxes for the second largest manufacturer of frozen pizza in India. Only products in the high-end printing sector, such as glossy magazines, cannot be produced with our paper. For “everyday use“, though, they’re a genuine alternative.
As a manufacturer of sustainable paper and packaging products, you’re in tune with the times. Do your products always go down well straight away or do you still need to raise people’s awareness of them?
As with all new products, changes don’t happen overnight. Something like that needs planning and a certain amount of lead time, and naturally the industry is also sometimes sceptical. So we still need to do some explaining. For example, we’re often asked about the way our products are transported, because they have to be transported from India to Europe by ship. If you break these emissions down to one tonne, the transport route to Europe is no longer a major criterion.
There is a lot more to the term ‘sustainability’ than merely producing environmentally friendly materials. What other measures has envoPAP taken?
Our major goal is to keep significantly more trees alive and so help to reduce CO² emissions. Furthermore, our company has B-Corporation certification (bcorporation.net), an organisation that evaluates companies around the world according to certain criteria: verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and accountability with the aim of aligning profit and corporate purpose. We are happy and, obviously, a little proud of being part of the B Corp since 2019. That’s a distinction that only about 6,000 companies worldwide have received so far. And it confirms, once again, that we are fair, open and transparent, also in our dealings with our staff.
Thank you very much for the interview, Mr Gutowski.