Pulp and Paper Canada

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Rewriting PaperWeek


December 2, 2012
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Among the multiple events that make up PaperWeek Canada 2013, there will be aspects that tackle the human resources issue, sessions that concentrate on the industry’s transformation, speakers that talk about larger business issues, and…

Among the multiple events that make up PaperWeek Canada 2013, there will be aspects that tackle the human resources issue, sessions that concentrate on the industry’s transformation, speakers that talk about larger business issues, and sessions that remain true to the tradition of technical papers focused on mill operations. Plus the trade show, the group luncheons, and the evening receptions.
PAPTAC is making every effort to see that the four-day affair is relevant and pertinent to mill personnel.
“That’s the idea of the program committee, which is formed of industry leaders. We asked them: what are your key preoccupations and concerns? What do your people need to get out of this event?” explains Greg Hay, PAPTAC executive director.
“A lot of time has been put into what we want the program to address.”
The program committee for 2013 consists of Martin Lorrion, vice-president, manufacturing, Domtar; Yvon Pelletier, executive vice-president, Tembec; Roger Gaudreault, corporate director – science & innovation, Cascades; and Marie Dumontier, consultant and advisor.
The theme of industry transformation continues to be a big part of this annual meeting. The International Forest Biorefinery Symposium runs concurrent with PaperWeek, and a full day of the PaperWeek schedule is given over to present the groundbreaking research of the eight R&D networks that make up FIBRE.
A key element that’s new to PaperWeek Canada for 2013 is the emphasis on the future workforce. There will be national job fair, with the opportunity for meetings with potential employers. FPAC is partnering with PAPTAC for this event.
“We’re going beyond the industry for participants,” says Hay. PAPTAC will approach school boards, CEGEPs, trade schools, universities, high schools.
In addition to the packed agenda of conference sessions and keynote speakers, PaperWeek Canada will once again include a trade show. Coffee breaks and evening receptions are held on the trade show floor, giving attendees an opportunity to maximize their time at PaperWeek.
The annual gathering will be held at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, from Feb. 4-8.
For an up-to-date schedule and details about accommodations and registration, please visit www.paperweekcanada.ca.

Taking the Lead: CEO Q & A

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Sustainability has been a core value for Canadian pulp and paper companies for many years now. What is your company’s most significant achievement in the realm of sustainability?

Lemaire: Since its beginnings in 1964, recycling paper and cardboard has been the very essence of Cascades. At the time, very few paper-making companies were using recycled fibres to produce paper and cardboard: most of was made from wood. It took a lot of time and patience to convince our clients and consumers that our products were just as high-quality as those made from virgin fibres. Our ideas were certainly forward-thinking, and our commitment and perseverance paid off, with most of our competitors following suit and launching their own production using recycled fibres. While our greatest accomplishment is having contributed to saving millions of trees, we have also played a role in changing consumption patterns, moving toward a more sustainable use of our natural resources.
Lopez: Tembec is widely recognized by environmental groups as a global leader in sustainable forest practices and woodlands conservation. A dozen years ago we realized the relationship between forestry and certification was going to resemble the relationship between corporations and auditing – third party certification organizations would watch over the practices of forestry companies, just as third party auditors watch over the financial practices of corporations. We also expanded our corporate mindset to integrate the notion that “what’s good for the environment is also good for our company.” Finally, we built sustainable relationships with all players – environmentalists, local communities, First Nations – because we knew we could not make good things happen on our own.
Tembec was the first large public forest products company in Canada to make the commitment to seek Forest Stewardship Council certification on all forest management units, in 2001. We now have FSC certification on all our forestlands, and FSC Chain-of-Custody certification.
Interestingly, Corporate Knights in Canada just published a proposal that called for an Oil Stewardship Council, modeled on the Forest Stewardship Council.
 
Do you think Canadian companies are making sufficient progress toward the new uses of wood fibre that will drive the transformation of the industry?

Lopez: The industry can always do more, but at Tembec we’re making one of our industry’s biggest investments in years at our Temiscaming, Qué., facility –  focused on green electricity and specialty cellulose processed from wood fiber.  We’re the world’s second leading producer of specialty cellulose, used as a component of products in pharmaceuticals, personal care, packaged foods and other growth industries. Specialty cellulose and green electricity are stable, higher-margin businesses that counter the more cyclical side of commodity forest products.
Temiscaming is also the site of the pilot plant for our new cellulose fiber-based biocomposite material. It is strong as spruce but more flexible, and hard as oak but much lighter. Potential applications include panels in trains and other mass transit vehicles, bridge components, and even truck beds.  It is an environmentally friendly product based on renewable resources.

Lemaire: Canada’s forest industry is slowing down, mainly because of a decrease in demand for certain products. Even though Cascades uses only a very small amount of raw materials (virgin fibre), it is still concerned with the health of the forest industry, as it is nonetheless the source of our recycled fibres. Cascades gives a second life to more than 3 million tonnes of recycled paper per year, producing products with a high content of recycled fibres. Cascades is part of the Innovative Green Wood Fibre Products Network, an initiative of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, whose objective is to create innovative and ecological products from wood fibre. Several other groups are also working toward finding solutions to the problems at hand as well as implementing innovative measures to ensure the financial health of the pulp and paper industry. Despite the fact that research has intensified over the last five years and the number of inventions has grown (technical success), the rate of innovation (commercial success) is still very low. In other words, the Canadian industry must increase its capacity and effectiveness in terms of innovation to regain its competitive edge over emerging countries.

Are you taking any special measures to address the looming skilled trades shortage facing the industry?

Lemaire: For the past several years, we’ve been dealing with a shortage in the skilled labour force, and we’ve noticed a decreased interest in the pulp and paper industry among students. The industry has been hurt by dozens of plant closures that have made the headlines. On the other hand, we need to evaluate the number of retirees and the growth of our industry sectors, and adjust accordingly. Instead of waiting for someone else to take care of the problem, we are taking action. This year, Cascades took the initiative and, together with other industry players including Kruger and Domtar, organized a campaign to stir up interest in the pulp and paper industry. Together, we painted a picture of the industry’s needs, as well as the work conditions offered by each of the companies. The project was a success: t
wo groups of 18 students are currently enrolled in a training program. Cascades also formed a committee to attract new university recruits, who will fill other key positions within the corporation.

Lopez: We are addressing it now. Our industry competes globally, so we need people who are world class.  And we need to do a better job of telling our story, to attract great talent.  We must show people that forest products is a sunrise industry based on a renewable resource, to counter the misperception this is a sunset industry.  
CIFQ, Quebec’s forest products industry association, is working on an awareness campaign showcasing the economic contribution of our industry, and demonstrating it has a great future.  Nationally, FPAC is working on recruitment, specifically, and on positioning the industry as a global leader.
At Tembec, we are highlighting our focus on growth businesses like specialty cellulose and green electricity, and our leadership in sustainable forestry.  On the recruiting front, we are actively pursuing people who see the appeal of working in one of the very few industries built on a truly renewable resource – the forest. We are looking for skilled people, with strength of character, who are ready to participate in the ongoing transformation of an exciting global industry that offers meaningful opportunities.


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