Smithers Pira: What are some of the biggest challenges with working with extremely small fibers?
Mike Browne: Breaking down wood pulp fibers to nanoscale widths is extremely energy intensive. Sappi’s patented process, developed in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University, uses a unique chemistry which easily breaks down wood pulp fibers into nanocellulose without requiring significant energy inputs.
Smithers Pira: What are some of the interesting innovations with specialty coatings going on at Sappi?
Mike Browne: Sappi has a new line called Sappi Guard with integrated barriers and heat sealing properties that are an attractive solution specifically optimized for gravure and flexo printing. The innovative papers, such as Algro Guard OHG, provides integrated barriers against oxygen, water vapor, grease, aroma and mineral oil without the need for additional coatings or adhesives, reducing both costs and the environmental footprint. Offering an alternative to foil and plastics, Algro Guard OHG makes packaging production simpler and more efficient. More than 80% of this paper-based packaging solution is comprised of renewable materials.
Smithers Pira: Being a mill that continues to innovate, what are some of the biggest challenges that you face in the specialty papers industry?
Mike Browne: Finding new and creative ways to increase the relevancy of paper versus alternative substrates for packaging and bringing these solutions to market are the biggest challenges facing the specialty paper industry. Paper-based packaging is a long-term, sustainable solution made from renewable resources with high levels of renewable energy and is recyclable.
Smithers Pira: What are you most looking forward to hearing at Specialty Papers US, this September?
Mike Browne: At Sappi, specialty paper and packaging is a strategic focus for our business growth as part of our 2020 Vision. I am looking forward to hearing the latest trends in these markets.