An all-guzzler guarantees production
Increasing digitalization has steadily reduced the amount of old paper that’s offered to us for using as raw materials in our production. Consequently, for some time now, we have been looking for alternative raw materials in order not to face problems in the near future. Drink cartons and elephant grass are the first alternative raw materials that seem to be appropriate for our paper production. We are very busy with the technical innovations to achieve this strategic change as soon as possible.
In the coming months, a new preparation line for materials will be installed, which will process the drink cartons and elephant grass into fibres for making paper. We named this concept – which we developed – the ‘omni-pulper’. “An important and exciting step”, says Eric van Hoof, a senior process technologist. “We are facing immense technical challenges. If we want to avoid future problems, we have to take steps now. Thinking about these issues has started a number of years ago and now we are implementing the ideas. At the end of November, we want to start using the line, which has a capacity of 25,000 tons per year.”
Tests in our own factory and in France have shown that we can definitely obtain raw materials from drink cartons and elephant grass for our production. Eric van Hoof: “We have already made paper from elephant grass. This year we anticipate the use of 600 tons. The elephant grass is stored in Zeeland where it is also cultivated. Ultimately, we want to expand to 2,000 tons annually. Starting from 1 January 2016, we will get 1,000 tons of drink cartons per month delivered to us, enough for balancing our business case. In the future, we naturally want to see a greater expansion.”
We are currently looking into the use of other alternative raw materials that we can use in our production process; take for example, coffee cups or drinking cups from fast-food restaurant. “It’s not for nothing that we have named the preparation line Omni-Pulper, the all-guzzler,” says Eric van Hoof. “But to begin with, our challenge is to feed this machine with drink cartons and elephant grass for processing into fibres. This is a test that we still haven’t done.”
Eric van Hoof once again mentions the implementation of the new preparation line as an example of sustainable enterprising. “The principle of a circular economy applies here; we deploy used products as raw materials to get new ones. Perhaps soon, we will even be able to deploy the plastic residue from the waste of the drink cartons as raw materials in the production of our dispensers. A fantastic idea or not?
Photo caption: Eric van Hoof, senior process technologist from Van Houtum: “In our production, we use more and more alternative raw materials, such as labels, drink cartons and elephant grass.”