VDMA “Circular Competence” interview series: “We are ready for ambitious goals”

In the “Circular Competence” interview series, the VDMA Printing and Paper Technology Association questions its member companies about their plans, solutions and challenges on the way to a circular economy. What can the industry do to minimize the ecological footprint of packaging and other printed products?

Frankfurt – Dr Michael Weiss, Vice President New Business & Research at Voith, Heidenheim, talks about much needed climate protection, the technically achievable goal of more energy and resource efficient paper production, and the desire to strict and reliable framework conditions.

By mid-century, major industrial nations want to have a climate neutral economy. Do you think this goal is realistic?
The goals are not only realistic, but necessary. There are many positive approaches and developments to focus on climate neutrality in the economy. Paper as a material makes an important contribution here, for example as a substitute for petroleum-based materials for sustainable packaging solutions, as it is obtained from renewable raw materials and is recyclable. As a leading technology supplier and full line supplier, Voith helps customers around the world establish the most sustainable paper production possible. Based on decades of experience, we have the necessary know-how and can develop individual and targeted solutions for the entire paper production process.

What are you doing to minimize the energy needs of your production?
Sustainability plays a key role in Voith’s strategy. We want to be a pioneer in the entire industry and as a family business we are committed to a long-term green, fair and economically successful business. Thanks to new technologies, we are constantly optimizing the energy and resource efficiency of our production processes. We make our commitment to sustainable development transparent and measurable with our sustainability report. One of our goals is for all Voith sites to be carbon neutral by 2022. The ISS ESG rating agency has awarded Voith a B rating for its commitment to sustainability. Based on more than 100 criteria, Voith’s performance in the environmental, social and corporate governance areas was rated above average. This makes Voith one of the top three factory and mechanical engineering companies in the world.

How do you help your customers to produce energy more efficiently?
We offer cutting-edge technological solutions that minimize the consumption of energy, raw materials and water. Our goal as a full range supplier is to offer the most efficient and sustainable solutions on the market: our fully integrated XcelLine paper machines, which cover the entire spectrum of paper qualities, are just as much a part of it as our efficient and market-leading BlueLine stock picking solutions; our service and parts portfolio; and our 4.0 papermaking solutions. Using advanced digitization and automation technologies, our customers can achieve significant increases in efficiency and productivity throughout the process while producing more sustainably by improving specific energy consumption. , increasing the availability of facilities and ultimately reducing specific CO2 emissions. In addition to optimizing existing technologies, disruptive new approaches are needed to meet ambitious CO2 targets in the paper industry. These pioneering approaches are also part of our sustainable development strategy and are an integral part of our research and development activities.

What role does this subject play in your research and development?
Sustainability, and decarbonisation in particular, is central to the optimization and further development of our portfolio of products and technologies. Innovations play an important role here – for example, we have set new standards with our AquaLine water management concepts, which significantly reduce the consumption of fresh water in the papermaking process. In new research projects, we also cooperate with many partners along the value chain of paper production. One example is the Modellfabrik Papier gGmbH in Düren, Germany, where more than 17 industrial partners are jointly researching solutions for the production of carbon neutral paper. Voith is also a member of many other sustainability initiatives, including the 4evergreen Alliance, which has set itself the goal of increasing the recycling rate of fiber-based packaging to over 90% by 2030. We Let’s also pave the way for sustainable packaging papers with our modernized pilot coating machine in Heidenheim. Customers can test a wide range of different coating variants on the world’s most modern test facility for coating technologies. Test runs offer our customers significantly greater security for possible future projects.

What would you like to see from lawmakers on the path to climate neutrality?
Clear framework conditions and reliable decisions by politicians and legislators are important. It is important to set the course for the long term and to support the transformation of the industry in a profitable manner. The development of renewable energies and the associated necessary infrastructure, such as transport networks and storage systems, must continue to be supported. In addition, it is important to promote production technologies with low CO2 emissions.

Do you have any questions? Lisa Raphaela Grübl, phone 069 6603 1450, [email protected], will be happy to answer them.