Metsä Fibre supports Sun Paper’s growth

Urbanisation and improved living standards are raising the demand for tissue paper in China. Metsä Fibre has helped Sun Paper to improve its production. Reliability is the foundation for collaboration.
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  • 2024, Customer story, Pulp

Sun Paper, established more than 40 years ago, is one of China’s top 500 companies by revenue. The multinational’s main end products are printing and writing paper, folding boxboard, linerboard-, and industrial packaging material. Tissue paper currently accounts for about 5 per cent of production but the company plans to increase the share of tissue in its product mix.

Guanjun Yao, Director of the Pulp Department at Sun Paper, sees long-term growth potential in the tissue market.

This has spurred Sun Paper to invest in two integrated mills in Guangxi autonomous region in Southern China. When fully ready, the Beihai plant will have a production capacity of 3.5 million tonnes and the Nanning plant 5.25 million tonnes.

“With gross domestic product in China still catching up with other developed countries, our living standards continue to improve,” Yao explains.

The ongoing urbanisation process also has a positive effect on the tissue paper market.

“Tissue paper is needed in homes, workplaces and public spaces, so the demand for it will continue to grow. As more people move from rural areas to the cities, personal wealth increases and as a result the demand for tissue paper increases.”

Centralisation changes the market

Yao points out that centralisation of production is the future development trend. Bigger companies have advantages over small and medium-sized enterprises.

“The market in China is shifting, and I believe that companies will go through a process of survival of the fittest,” she says.

“As their competitive advantages gradually disappear, smaller enterprises are either eliminated or merge with larger companies. This will also resolve the short-term overcapacity in tissue and paper board production.”

Tougher environmental standards also influence the market. A few years ago, the Chinese government introduced a policy to ban imports of wastepaper, which has reduced the sources of fibre raw materials. Consequently, some fibre production has moved from China to Southeast Asia.

Regarding wood raw material, China has initiated a programme to return forests to farmland in North China, which will have an impact on the supply of wood chips.

“These policies are part of protecting our environment in
China. Although they affect our raw material supply, they are meaningful from a sustainability perspective. I believe this will bring changes in market segmentation, as we will need to import more pulp in the future.”

Fifteen years of collaboration

Sun Paper and Metsä Fibre have worked together for more than fifteen years and formed a strategic partnership. Their technical collaboration began in 2013, when Sun Paper entered the tissue market and invested in its first tissue paper machine.

Metsä Fibre’s Technical Customer Service provided Sun Paper with start-up support and a refining audit, which helped in the selection of suitable softwood fibre qualities and refiner fillings.

Since then, Sun Paper has bought Metsä Fibre’s softwood pulp from Finland for its tissue production. Metsä Fibre’s Technical Customer Service has continued to support Sun Paper with pulp benchmarking, refining audits, fibre optimisation, training and troubleshooting.

“Metsä Fibre is a valuable partner for us,” says Huayong Zhao, Manager of the Pulp department at Sun Paper.

“Through our collaboration, we have a stable and reliable supplier of high-quality pulp, with excellent technical support.”

In 2019, when Sun Paper acquired a second tissue paper machine, Metsä Fibre’s Technical Customer Service provided a Fines Management Audit for this machine to achieve the full potential of the fibre and fibre fines, to minimise the drawbacks of extractives, to reduce solid content in circulation and wastewater, and to reduce dusting in tissue.

Data supports daily work

Apart from assisting Sun Paper in developing their products and processes, Metsä Fibre’s Technical Customer Service provides data which is useful in Sun Paper’s own production.

“The logistics-, quality- and technical data we receive from Metsä Fibre supports our own work,” Zhao says.

“Additionally, this service helps us to answer our customers’ questions.”

Henry Guo, Technical Customer Service Manager at Metsä Fibre in China, underlines that the goal for Technical Customer Service is to look for benefits for the customer.

“Customers can save costs in material and energy, as well as learning more about the various fibre qualities through the services we offer.”

Reliability is the foundation for collaboration

Zhao stresses that Metsä Fibre’s reliability is the basis for their long-term collaboration. Smooth logistic arrangements ensure that the pulp ordered arrives on time for production use, and the quality is stable.

“The wood raw material plays an important role for us, as it accounts for the main part of the raw material used in tissue production. High-quality long-fibre Finnish pulp is a necessity for us, as well as for our supply chain, to produce high-quality end products,” he explains.

Sustainability is an additional key factor for Sun Paper, Zhao adds. It improves the company’s market capability and adaptability to market requirements.

“Sun Paper’s and Metsä Fibre’s sustainability goals align well, which is beneficial for both companies, as we work together towards the same goals.”

High-quality long-fibre Finnish pulp is a necessity for us, as well as for our supply chain, to produce high-quality end products.

Huayong Zhao

Joint research projects

Sun Paper aims to increase its pulp value and is therefore looking into joint research and development projects with Metsä Fibre, both to add value to existing products and to develop new ones.

“From a technical perspective, Metsä Fibre has many advantages. This is why we would like to develop new products together,” Yao says.

“Metsä Fibre has a strong position in softwood pulp, and we believe we could benefit from working together in new pulp projects too. We are especially interested in the new Kemi bioproduct mill.

This article was originally published in Fibre Magazine issue 2024.

Sun Paper

  • Established in 1982.

  • One of China’s top 500 companies.

  • Produces 12 million tonnes of pulp and paper annuallly.

  • Turnover RMB 39.7 billion (2022).

  • Products include cardboard, paper board, cultural paper, tissue paper, wrapping paper and industrial packaging material, in addition to dissolving pulp, chemical pulp and BCTMP pulp.

In this article

Guanjun Yao

Director of the Pulp Department, is responsible for the procurement of fibre materials in Sun Paper, including wood pulp and wastepaper. She is also in charge of the external customs affairs at Sun Paper.

Huayong Zhao

Manager of the Pulp Department, is mainly responsible for the management of the wood pulp department in Sun Paper’s Guangxi Base, including wood pulp procurement and imports for Sun Paper’s Beihai and Nanning plants.