Countless businesses have discovered the marketing opportunities, operational efficiencies and social responsibilities born from making sustainable and eco-friendly strategic decisions in the last 10 years. However, Bio Pappel International has kept this mindset since its inception 25 years ago, and the company’s revolutionary paper production process is at the crux of its mission to lead the paper industry out of its top position as the largest consumer of wood and forests worldwide.
“We support and are part of a new trend of environmentally conscious consumers through our sustainable containerboard for packaging and other paper products we offer,” says Wilfrido Rincon, commercial director for Bio Pappel International. “Whether it’s business-to-business or retail, the end-customers are more aware and responsible of their contribution to the environment, so we see a continuously increasing demand of environmentally friendly paper and packaging products. At Bio-Pappel, we develop and deliver sustainable products, services and solutions to help companies keep their best customers.”
Founded in Mexico a quarter of a century ago, Bio Pappel started operating its first U.S. 100 percent post-consumer containerboard mill in 1997 in Prewitt, N.M. Today, in addition to the Prewitt paper mill, the company operates recycling centers in Phoenix; Albuquerque, N.M.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and El Paso, Rio Grande and McAllen, Texas. Between the United States and Mexico, Bio Pappel operates 31 industrial plants and employs 7,938 people.
Bio Pappel’s greatest claim to sustainable fame is its ability to produce paper without cutting trees, using the “urban forest,” or recycled paper, as its raw material. According to Rincon, the company collects recycled items at its recycling centers, where it separates the different paper products it can use for raw materials, bales these materials and ships them to Bio Pappel’s nearest regional manufacturing facility. Other recyclables, such as plastics and aluminum are also separated, baled and shipped to be recycled by third parties as well.
Once the recyclable material arrives, it is placed on a conveyor belt to be turned into pulp, which is later cleaned in several different stages before arriving at the paper machine. The pulp process is another avenue of environmentally friendly practices for Bio Pappel.
Along with avoiding deforestation for its raw materials, the Prewitt mill relies on a closed-loop water system, whereby all the process water gets treated, cleaned and reused again in the papermaking cycle. According to Rincon, Bio Pappel has no water discharge as a result of this system, and the company is one of a few in the world with a closed-loop system. In fact, in 2011 Bio Pappel’s operations earned the Resource Information Systems Inc.’s Pulp and Paper International worldwide water efficiency award for its Prewitt mill, according to Rincon.
“It was not enough for us to be a recycled paper maker that makes recyclable products,” Rincon says. “It’s why we say we’re not just a green company, but a blue one – we want to protect the blue sky and the blue of the water in our oceans and rivers in addition to the land and the trees. We firmly believe that protecting the environment and reducing our carbon footprint are the correct paths to follow to benefit the community, customers and our business.”
Unlike the bulk of its competition, Bio Pappel’s status in its Prewitt location as an independent mill allows it to react faster to the changing demands of its clientele. Rincon says this places its customer services capabilities a step above rival companies that are required to adhere to the mandates and typical inflexibility of larger organizations.
“If a customer has an urgent order placement or other changes, we tend to be successful at accommodating any requests to make it happen,” Rincon says. “We have more flexibility to act upon quick changes in volume and logistics, and we’re always open to new ideas, proposals and creative ways to generate new business with our customers and partners to develop win-win scenarios.”
For instance, Bio Pappel’s logistics operations offer deliveries via rail or truck, and the company can nimbly alternate between the two modes of transportation based on what best suits its customers. “We have good relationships with our suppliers, so change at a moment’s notice is something we’re accustomed to and handle very well,” Rincon says.
No matter how sustainable or adaptable the company’s operations might be, customer service still determines the main success factor of its business. Rincon admits that how a company serves and works with its clients will make or break any paper company faster than any differences in the quality of materials, as they tend not to vary greatly from one manufacturer to the next.
“Defining true quality is how fast and efficient you can deliver paper when a customer needs it,” Rincon says. “Always strive to deliver on time and accurately. If other custom variables are desired, such as lightweighting, our sales and R&D department will help our customers develop those solutions as well.”
“Also, consistency from order to order is a key factor,” Rincon adds. “Ensure it is done correctly the first time with a high customer satisfaction while continuously improving the internal process.”