What to do with the soaring cost of paper enterprises

   ——Shandong paper enterprises respond to the investigation of rising raw material prices

  Our reporter Wang Jinhu

  Since the beginning of this year, the prices of domestic paper-making raw materials have risen sharply.

At the same time, the cost of chemical materials supporting papermaking has risen significantly, with a maximum increase of 100%.

For a time, paper companies were under pressure.

In Shandong, a traditional province in the domestic paper industry, how do many paper companies respond?

Recently, a reporter from the Economic Daily has conducted in-depth interviews and surveys and found that many paper companies continue to improve their technological innovation capabilities while optimizing product structure and improving production processes.

  Affected by the recovery of downstream demand and other factors, the price of domestic paper-making raw materials has risen significantly since this year, and the price of wood pulp, the main raw material, has risen by more than US$100 per ton per month for two consecutive months.

Among them, the price of imported hardwood pulp increased by nearly 2,000 yuan per ton from the lowest point in March; the price of imported softwood pulp increased from about 4,200 yuan per ton in October 2020 to about 7,000 yuan per ton.

  The paper industry is an important industry related to the national economy and people’s livelihood. What impact will this round of paper-making raw material prices have on paper-making companies?

How do many paper companies respond?

  Improving craftsmanship is a good strategy

  The reporter learned during the interview that according to different sources of upstream raw materials, papermaking companies can be divided into two categories: wood pulp and waste paper.

Among them, wood pulp raw materials are derived from raw wood chips. For a long time, my country's papermaking main raw material wood pulp has mostly relied on imports, resulting in the lack of voice in the stability of raw material channels and cost control of Chinese paper companies; waste paper recycling through waste paper Re-pulping to start manufacturing.

  Since January 1 this year, my country has banned the import of solid waste in any way, and waste paper is also in the banned list.

At present, domestic recyclable waste paper raw materials are limited, leading to a large gap in related demand.

In addition, due to the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the production capacity of the world's major wood pulp producing countries has declined, and the total supply of wood pulp has tightened.

At the same time, the cost of chemical materials supporting papermaking has risen significantly, and the purchase prices of starch and latex have continued to rise, with the highest increase of 100%-a combination of many factors, for a time, papermaking enterprises are under pressure.

  On April 16, the reporter came to the 450,000-ton newsprint production workshop of Huatai Group located in Guangrao County, Dongying City, Shandong Province, and saw that the intelligent large-scale paper machine was operating at high speed, and it was almost impossible to see it in the pulping, papermaking, and coiling sections. Operators.

Next to the rewinder with a height of about 5 meters, two workers were checking the paper cutting situation. They saw a bundle of huge paper rolls with a width of more than 11 meters, a diameter of more than 4 meters, and a weight of fifty to sixty tons. According to customer needs The paper rolls are cut into small paper rolls of different sizes, and then arranged neatly through the automated transportation line to the packaging area to enter the packaging process. The packaging robot "shook" and waved the robot arm, grabbed the packaging head and placed it on the two paper rolls. At the end, the packaged paper rolls are sent to the finished product warehouse through an automated transportation line.

  Li Li, deputy general manager of Huatai Group, told reporters, "We mainly produce newsprint, cultural paper, coated paper and packaging paper. At present, our monthly production capacity is maintained at more than 200,000 tons."

It is understood that the main raw material of newsprint and packaging paper produced by Huatai Group is recycled waste paper, which accounts for 40% of the company's total products.

In the past, they used 100% of imported waste paper to produce newsprint.

This year, the country began to implement the "ban on waste." As the domestic waste paper market is not stable enough, there is currently a tight supply of waste paper, which directly leads to an increase in the price of waste paper.

Affected by this, Huatai Group's newsprint output decreased by 30% compared with the same period last year.

  Li Li told reporters, "Like white cardboard, the main raw materials of cultural paper and coated paper, which account for 60% of our total products, are wood pulp. Although since October last year, due to the epidemic, transportation and other factors, the price of wood pulp has soared. However, because the main users of cultural paper and coated paper are major domestic newspapers and publishing houses, and they adopt contract-based production, the price of these products cannot rise sharply like white cardboard products. When the price of white cardboard products has nearly doubled , Newsprint and coated paper prices have only increased by less than 20%."

  The reporter learned that despite the sharp increase in the price of imported wood pulp, the volume of imported wood pulp purchased by Huatai Group is still 20% higher than the same period last year, and imported waste paper pulp has been added. Why?

  "Imported waste paper is favored by newsprint manufacturers because of its long fiber and low price. In the past, we used imported waste paper to produce newsprint. In recent years, affected by the national import policy, the annual quota for imported waste paper was only 360,000 tons. Companies are forced to match more domestic waste paper. However, because domestic waste paper is often recycled for many times, its high proportion in production will affect quality. Therefore, we have re-adjusted the ratio of raw materials and currently use 70% of domestic waste paper. Paper and domestic wood pulp are combined with 30% imported wood pulp to ensure product quality.” Yang Minghui, Purchasing Department of Huatai Group, told reporters.

  Focus on innovation is king

  While optimizing product structure and improving production technology, Shandong paper companies are also committed to improving technological innovation capabilities to adapt to market changes.

  In the intelligent three-dimensional warehouse of Honghe Paper, a subsidiary of Sun Paper, located in Yanzhou District, Jining City, Shandong Province, more than 4,000 tons of finished paper from the production workshop are automatically searched for eligible lanes and directly enter the honeycomb type according to the warehouse instructions. The three-dimensional warehouse is automatically loaded into the corresponding cargo space.

The reporter learned from Sun Paper that they make full use of digitalization to improve corporate management and production and operation efficiency in order to cope with the unfavorable factors of rising raw materials.

  "Before and after the Lunar New Year this year, we have completed the technical transformation of the 3520 paper machine, which has significantly increased the production capacity. At present, the paper machine can produce the coated base paper for food packaging required by the market under the requirements of the'plastic ban', creating a good Benefits." Guo Feng, director of food paper production at Sun Paper, told reporters that the epidemic has brought major challenges to the global supply chain, especially cross-border logistics. For this reason, they optimized the supporting logistics processes and improved risk response capabilities.

  Galaxy Securities analysis pointed out that from the demand side, the current per capita paper consumption in my country is still low. With economic growth and the improvement of people’s living standards, it is expected that the demand side of the industry will grow steadily in the future; from the supply side, the current industry concentration is It is still low. It is expected that under the influence of policies such as the continuous tightening of environmental protection policies and the zeroing of imported waste paper quotas, small and medium-sized production capacity will be cleared faster. Leading enterprises will take advantage of scale and raw material self-sufficiency to increase industry concentration.

In addition, although my country’s paper industry has a low level of maturity compared with the global paper industry, my country is in the process of reducing capacity and increasing concentration, and the demand side is still rising steadily. Therefore, the core driving factors for the future growth of the industry come from On the supply side, only by optimizing the supply side structure and coordinating with the steady increase in the demand side, can the industry gradually move towards a mature stage.

  In the context of rising upstream raw material prices, companies with a complete supply chain are looking for opportunities in crisis.

Chenming Paper, the industry leader headquartered in Shouguang, Shandong, has pulp mills in its main production bases across the country, with a total wood pulp production capacity of approximately 4.3 million tons, leading the industry.

In addition, they are also actively deploying the second phase of Huanggang's pulp and paper integration project. After the completion of the project, the wood pulp self-sufficiency rate is expected to further increase.

  According to data, Chenming Paper will produce 5.77 million tons of machine-made paper in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 15.17%; sales volume of 5.61 million tons, a year-on-year increase of 6.86%, both production and sales hit a record high.

Since 2001, Chenming Paper has successively promoted the construction of integrated pulp and paper production bases in Zhanjiang, Guangdong, Shouguang, Shandong, and Huanggang, Hubei.

Compared with purchased pulp, self-made pulp has obvious cost advantages and relatively stable supply advantages, which has laid a solid foundation for Chenming Paper to participate in market competition.

  Self-sufficiency in raw materials

  The reporter learned during the interview that at present, large paper companies in Shandong are all making efforts to the upstream of the industrial chain to varying degrees, seeking self-sufficiency in raw materials.

Li Li told reporters, “In order to get rid of import dependence and ensure its own stable source of raw materials, Huatai Group plans to invest 7 billion yuan to add 700,000 tons of chemical pulp projects and supporting alkali recovery and water treatment projects. The main products of the project are bleaching chemicals. Hardwood pulp is one of the main imported pulps in my country, which can be used to manufacture advanced printing paper, offset paper and writing paper. At present, the project has completed the preparation and filing of the feasibility study report, and the follow-up work is being stepped up."

  Sun Paper also recognizes the importance of further enhancing the self-sufficiency of wood pulp and wood chips.

They continue to optimize the industrial layout and accelerate the "forest-pulp-paper integration" project in multiple bases.

The gradual implementation of these projects will greatly improve the pulp self-sufficiency rate and cost control capabilities of the enterprise.

  According to Zhao Zhendong, vice chairman of the Shandong Paper Industry Association, policies such as the “waste prohibition order” will not have an excessive impact on the domestic paper industry and enterprises. “After all, the total amount of imported waste paper in the raw materials of domestic paper enterprises in recent years In the next step, paper companies should take measures such as optimizing production processes and adjusting the raw material structure to adapt to changes in the raw material market. At the same time, companies should devote themselves to increasing the production capacity of homemade raw materials, increasing the amount of domestic waste paper, etc., and seek self-sufficiency in raw materials. ".

  Zhao Zhendong specifically mentioned, “At present, waste paper accounts for about 60% of China’s papermaking raw materials. The best way to turn waste into valuables is to become papermaking raw materials. We should make overall plans to make good use of waste paper, a long-neglected resource, and continuously optimize waste paper. Collecting, sorting, marketing and utilizing standards and regulations, expand the fiscal and tax preferential scope of domestic paper-making raw materials, and strive to increase the proportion of domestic raw materials, so as to meet the market's demand for high-quality pulp and paper products and better serve economic and social development."