Having the privilege to visit APRIL Group HQ was undoubtedly a once in a lifetime experience, since that there are no pulp and paper manufacturing facilities in Singapore. I was given the opportunity to learn more about the processes of paper manufacturing, from plantation to the final product. This was an apt timing, since I was working on my thesis on the life cycle assessment of paper, and the paper manufacturing process generates a substantial environmental footprint. Also, since paper is almost indispensible in our everyday lives, it would be good to better understand what actually happens in the papermaking industry so as to get a clearer picture of our contribution to environmental problems as an individual.
Seeing the paper manufacturing at such a large scale was fascinating; the sheer size of the plantations land, recovery boiler and paper cutting factory exceeded my expectations. In fact, the size of the jumbo paper roll before cutting into commercial sizes alone blew my mind. Indeed, such a large-scale operation would have a significant impact on the environment. As such, initiatives taken to reduce its environmental footprint have the potential to alleviate environmental problems. In the RGE learning hub, RGE’s as well as APRIL Group’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives were shared with us. Given APRIL Group’s scale of operation, efforts such as the zero-burning policy can help in curbing the transboundary haze issue if strictly enforced.
Also, we were introduced to the challenges faced by APRIL Group in various areas, from factors undermining productivity of the plantations to ensuring long-term sustainability. Through these, we were shown how the extensive R&D undertaken by the company came into use. The amount of effort which goes into producing the perfect tree to obtain the best paper simply amazed me.
Overall, it was an eye-opening experience to be able to witness first-hand the manufacturing process of paper, from tree to the final product. Not only did I gain insight on the impact of the ecological footprint created by the industry, I also had a glimpse of how APRIL Group is trying to reduce this, and convince other players in the industry to do the same. Hopefully, the future of the paper industry will be a greener one, providing environmentally sustainable products for us and for future generations.
Contributed by: Ang Shi Min, a fourth year Environmental Studies student from National University of Singapore.