Raising the standard of fiber recycling
Demand for products made from recovered fiber continues to rise in the transition to a circular economy. Reprocessors need to source the right grades of material to meet this in a notoriously volatile market. To achieve this and make consistent finished products requires an efficient end-to-end process.
Recovered fiber market
According to McKinsey & Company, the estimated value of the global paper recycling market is set to grow from $37.5 billion (USD) in 2018 to over $56 billion by 2027. The declining demand for graphic papers and newsprint is more than offset by a greater appetite for card and paperboard.
As consumers push back against single-use plastics, a larger share of the recovered paper stream includes more paperboard food packaging in the expectation that this can be recycled.
We know that paper and card recycling have a problem with inconsistent quality. Since 2017 China, increasingly followed by other established markets in Asia, has responded to this by banning the import of mixed papers and setting tighter specifications on other grades. This has been a big factor in fluctuating prices for feedstock.
In the mix, is an expectation that sorters, merchants and domestic processors are capable of managing contamination and the changing composition of waste paper and card. To make the right decision when sourcing fiber means having the best possible information at your fingertips.
Recipe for success
The recovered fiber industry produces a wide range of products, from graphic papers and newsprint to the many forms of containerboard or paperboard, or tissue-papers. Reprocessors have a specific ingredient list to make their recipe and deliver what customers expect. To do this requires sourcing the right balance of feedstock and coordinating the logistics with suppliers.
Our Enterprise Management (ERP) software has been purpose-built for paper recycling companies. It provides operation managers with an easy-to-use system covering the whole process. It links details and data points in the production schedule with the inventory.
The ability to build a demand plan for months ahead gives purchasing managers a clear picture of what to source based on existing stock. The AMCS Platform supports the CRM and admin for each fiber supplier, creating purchase orders and delivery plans. It also links in contracted haulers, as well as internal fleet capacity, ensuring input material is at the mill on time.
If you are a purchasing manager, in a volatile market you want to be able to take advantage of the moments when prices are low. Having a clear picture of the inventory, with a system that also monitors stock to manage risks of degradation, fire and process loss, means that it is possible to successfully make the most of these opportunities when the price is right.
Dealing with contamination
When bales of paper and board for recycling arrive at a mill, identifying and dealing with unwanted material is paramount. Checking each bale and reporting this can be time consuming. The AMCS Platform for paper recycling includes support for mobile devices to cut this down. Bale that is inspected by a banksman or spotter, to grade material, has moisture readings and specific contaminants recorded. Photos taken with a phone or tablet using the AMCS system are easily uploaded. This means any issues can be accurately reported back to the supplier with robust documentation.
Deductions for the contamination, weight loss or load reclassification are automatically matched onto the supplier invoice for the load. The AMCS system also has the capability to split loads, so deductions are applied purely to the affected bales. Ultimately, this feedback loop empowers suppliers to engage with collectors to educate their customers. More than anything reprocessors want to drive an improvement in quality.
Efficient grading means that the mill knows who the best-performing suppliers are, so their loads can be waved through with occasional spot checks to see contamination is low. If you are an operations manager, it means you can focus the team effort on the suppliers known to provide variable quality.
Balancing demand and supply
An ERP platform designed for paper recycling provides greater control of business performance. The AMCS solution means that sales teams can be allocated to consignments, with robust figures for the expected volume of each product. This system also links with outbound logistics, setting up orders, invoices, releases and notifications, to ensure a complete service for customers. This system is also capable of intelligently adapting sales slots if there are unexpected issues with feedstock or problems in production, so customer services reps and sales can dynamically respond.
The holistic solution AMCS has developed also means that if you have a particular product line that starts selling better or worse, then this change can be fed back. The operations manager using the software can build a new demand plan, updating purchasing for inventory and the production schedule. Doing this makes the most of new opportunities and eliminates unwanted finished stock. If need be, the system can calculate how to return unwanted stock to the mill for more in-demand product lines.
While there is no denying that paper recycling can only take place where the mill is, a substantial part of the work happens virtually. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of being able to have staff working remotely. The advantage of the AMCS cloud-based platform is that many of the office functions essential to a paper recycling company can access the platform from anywhere. As business adapts to a new normal, roles such as purchasing, customer services, admin, sales, accounts and planning just need a browser with secure login credentials.
VLOG: The AMCS Paper Recycling Solution
In this video, Evan Schwartz, Vice President Services of AMCS discusses the unique challenges that paper recyclers around the globe are dealing with in their day-to-day operations. Having worked with many of the leading paper processors, Evan explains in detail how paper recyclers can improve their processes for logistics, quality, inventory management, vendor management and demand planning. He shows that you need an end-to-end solution to have complete visibility of your operations and why you need a specialized solution like the AMCS Platform solution to help overcome these challenges.
Evan SchwartzVice President of Solutions Engineering
An end-to-end solution for paper and card recycling
The data and in your system is only as valuable as the technology you have for interpreting it. AMCS has a full technology stack that connects all your data points.
When set-up, it knows all your suppliers and haulers, to make recommendations on what is the best price. Demand for feedstock can be planned with existing inventory and the known capacity of established recovered paper suppliers, providing agility to choose the best moments to enter spot markets.
The system helps establish procedures and automate tasks covering the whole lifecycle of material in a mill. This provides an overview for operating managers as it coordinates all the moving parts, saving time and money.
The software has been developed with the user experience in mind, providing work centers for Customer Service, Routing & Logistics, Weighbridge, Inventory, Materials Management, Vendors, Accounting, Prices and Products, Reports and Analytics.
The AMCS platform can be configured to the processes of fiber reprocessors of all sizes and has already been adopted by some of the biggest paper and card recycling companies in the world. Building on our expertise and knowledge of how recycling works around the world, we have created a best-in-class solution for producers of recycled paper and card.
Counting the cost of paper contamination
A key principle of recycling is that you get out what you put in. Quality in, quality out is a mantra we often hear from reprocessors. It’s a challenge for a paper or card-recycling mill to make it happen. Figures vary from country to country, but typically 70-75 per cent of paper and card is recycled in European countries and around 65 per cent in the United States. As the various grades of paper-based products make their way on the recycling journey, these are often mixed with other materials. This is true even where there are specialised containers for collecting paper and cardboard.For the companies that recycle fibre, understanding and taming contamination is a major business requirement. Doing it well makes a huge difference to the operating margin. Click below on the link to how we look at the root issues and tech solutions.