Plastic reduction creates a new world for Japanese paper industry, replacing internal and external packaging to pursue technological breakthroughs.
When face masks become part of the face and people keep a safe distance from each other, Global Times found that Japan’s service industry, which has always been proud of, has lost its enthusiasm. The dialogue with “God” can be as few as possible. Even plastic shopping bags start to charge. In fact, the Japanese government announced last year that it will implement the provision of paid plastic bags from July 1, 2020. This wave of plastic reduction movement is not only in line with the world, but also is expected to save Japan’s paper industry in the dark.
Continuous decline in paper demand
In 2018, the metropolitan survey in Tokyo showed that 44 plastic sardine particles were found in 64 sardines caught in the Gulf of Tokyo. Lipophilic plastics have become part of the body of marine fish and are becoming part of the human body. According to the conjecture data released by the United Nations, the global average annual discharge of marine plastic waste is 8 million tons, 80% of which comes from Asian countries. If not controlled, the amount of plastic waste in the ocean will exceed that of fish in 2050.
Although in June 2018, Japan refused to sign the marine plastics charter, in October of the same year, Japan’s Ministry of environment issued a draft of plastic waste reduction strategy, setting a target to reduce the emissions of plastic bottles, plastic shopping bags and disposable plastic lunch boxes to 25% by 2030. In addition to reducing the amount of plastic waste, the Japanese government also plans to increase the production of environmentally friendly materials using plants as raw materials in China from 70000 tons in 2013 to 2 million tons.
This is undoubtedly a good opportunity for Japan’s paper industry, which has been declining year after year. It can be seen from the paper and cardboard circulation in 2019 issued by Japan paper making Federation that the domestic demand for paper in Japan is becoming less and less, showing a decreasing trend for seven consecutive years: in 2011, the domestic demand is 16.59 million tons, and in 2017, the domestic demand is 14.69 million tons. One of the reasons is the electronization of reading habits, which leads to the decrease in the distribution of publications and printed products; the other is that compared with paper containers, plastic containers with heavy environmental burden are cheaper and more popular in the market.
For Japan’s paper industry, Japan with a vast forest area is conducive to more and faster access to paper-making raw materials – wood. However, the weakness of paper products, such as low water resistance and low heat resistance, has always been a major technical difficulty in replacing plastic products.
Stone instead of wood
Paper industry is the epitome of the development of Japanese Light Industry after World War II. With Japan’s economy taking off in the 1970s, the domestic paper industry developed rapidly and entered the golden age. After the economic bubble burst, the Japanese paper industry turned to low speed development, and the scale of production was negative for the first time at the beginning of this century. In this context, Japanese paper-making enterprises are forced to carry out structural adjustment and industrial transformation. Its basic directions include: actively ensuring the source of raw materials, turning to the development of high-end paper products such as special paper through technological upgrading, reducing production energy consumption and increasing the proportion of circular economy. In terms of technology upgrading, Japan’s paper industry is increasingly turning to high value-added industry and industrial paper, and using technology to accumulate and develop composite products with more scientific and technological content. At the same time, Japan’s paper industry strives to maximize economic and environmental benefits. In 2015, Japan paper making Federation proposed that paper-making enterprises should “produce high-grade paper products that are friendly to human society and natural environment” through comprehensive improvement of production efficiency, which also helps enterprises to improve the position of value chain.
Plastic reduction is indeed a good opportunity for paper-making enterprises of all sizes in Japan. Prince holdings, a leading enterprise in the field of paper industry in Japan, developed a packaging paper in 2018, which has the same performance as household fresh-keeping film. By coating special drugs on the paper surface, it can achieve the effect of blocking moisture and air. Now, the product has been used by Nestle Japan as the outer packaging of “Qiqiao” chocolate, which is expected to reduce plastic waste by about 380 tons every year.
Almost all brands of shampoo, conditioner, body wash liquid, hand wash liquid and dishwasher fluid in the Japanese market have been replaced. The bottler only needs to be purchased once. After that, you can buy it to replace it and go home, then pour it into the bottle. There is no doubt that these replacement packages are all soft plastic. According to the survey results of the Ministry of economy and industry of Japan, only one year’s replacement of shampoo is worth 300 billion yen. Paper packaging is used to replace soft plastics, an industry that Japanese paper groups are eyeing. The group has developed the inner and outer packaging “spops”, which can be cut without scissors. By simply replacing the inner packaging and recycling the outer packaging, new liquid products such as shampoo can be used all the time. Japan Paper Group aims to occupy 20% of the replacement market.
Just as the world is paying close attention to the great transformation of Japanese paper industry, Japan has successfully developed “limex” of stone paper industry. At the forefront of the field is TBM in the Central District of Tokyo. The company’s Stone paper can be used for packaging materials, cups, food containers, etc. because the main component is limestone with bio resin, it will not affect the environment, nor consume water resources and forestry resources. The president of TBM, Toshiki Yamazaki, once said that Japan is rich in water and forestry resources, so there is not much sense of environmental crisis. But there are many countries in the world that lack these resources. “Our technology can contribute to those countries and create new industries and jobs.”.
Join hands with overseas leading enterprises
Japanese paper companies are also actively engaged overseas. In October 2014, Alexander stubb, then Prime Minister of Finland, complained that “it was apple that destroyed Finland!” Paper industry and Nokia mobile phone are the two pillars of Finland’s economy. “IPad killed Finland’s paper industry, while iPhone killed Nokia, which made Finland’s economy in trouble,” said Stuart Nowadays, Finland’s paper industry also grasps the life-saving grass of reducing plastics, and takes the lead in circular economy of paper industry through technological reform. The Finnish company of Japan Paper Group has developed a paper product “shield plus” which can be used for inner packaging of almond, chocolate and pancake. In order to enter the European market with strong environmental awareness, Japanese paper making group invested 5 million euros in Finnish companies to produce the product on a large scale.
Beiyue package, located in the Central District of Tokyo, is a subsidiary of Beiyue company that specializes in processing paper containers. In October 2018, it expanded its factory in Ibaraki county. While continuing to produce the main products paper milk containers, it began to produce paper tableware, including paper spoons, forks, lunch boxes, etc. and began to cooperate with Italian paper container leading enterprise IPI from April 2018.
Coping with the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic has also become an opportunity for Japanese paper industry to develop. During the outbreak, Japanese restaurants were encouraged to provide take out and take out services. Now that the epidemic is under initial control, a new living mode of reducing the number of meals in stores is proposed. It can be expected that in the future, Japanese catering industry, whether willing or not, will have to take out and take out services as the development focus. With the full implementation of Japan’s plastic shopping bag charging obligation, Japan’s clothing industry, health food industry and other industries have started to look for paper companies to produce new paper bags that can replace plastic shopping bags, said akito Saito, general manager of Dazhao and Paper Industry Co., Ltd. In addition, choosing to take it home instead of eating in the store will become one of the fixed life patterns in the future, which also requires a large number of special paper bags. “Japan’s era of big paper bags has begun,” he said excitedly.
However, according to the Nikkei Asia review, there are still many challenges to be faced in replacing plastic with paper, such as the high cost, and the need to prove that the process of obtaining raw materials and wood is not harmful to the environment.
Post time: Jun-11-2020