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Agriculture

A paper mill that recycles everything

- Rose Dela Cruz -

The 24-hectare United Pulp and Paper Corp. in Barangay Iba Este, Calumpit, Bulacan, owned by Thailand-based Siam Cement Group (SCG), is the best model of an ecologically-friendly plant using 100 percent waste paper as raw material, cleaned in recycled water and processed by high-tech computerized machines powered by a 24-megawatt cogeneration power plant that runs on coal, paper rejects, waste paper sludge and biomass.

The bulk of treated waste water is reused for cleaning the facility, the grounds, watering the vast lawns and gardens, replenishing the koi and tilapia ponds and for common utilities inside the paper plant.  The rest of the treated water is drained to the Labangan River right behind the compound, where ulang (freshwater prawns) thrive.

The UPPC plant was put up in 1969 by the Phinma Group but started production in 1974. Phinma decided to divest some of its operations in 2004 and sold the plant to SCG of Thailand. SCG poured in P7 billion including P1.5 billion for the biomass power plant and P500 million for the wastewater treatment facility. It operated at full capacity in 2006 at 230,000 metric tons.

In 2004, SCG undertook a complete transformation of the formerly bunker-fired plant facility into an ecological paradise. Last Jan. 30, SCG opened its doors to a media plant tour with company officials declaring that UPPC will be the role model of other paper plants to be set up in Asia and in the world. Already, SCG is constructing a paper plant in Vietnam , which it expects to operate next year.

Scattered all over the complex are ponds and rock gardens with colorful flowers typical of Bangkok . Even the tall piles of waste paper to be fed to the mills are neatly arranged in rows on the cemented roads. The plant produces 20,000 tons a month of corrugated cartons and liner boards that are bought by local food companies (up to 85 percent of output) and (the balance) exported to Vietnam,  Malaysia and China.

SCG’s research and development group is now working on other possible products from paper like paper chairs (capable of sitting up to 200 kilos) and paper coffins (to replace wood).

UPP president/CEO Chart-chai Leukulwatanachai said aside from its environmental-friendly practices that management strictly enforces, the company’s greatest contribution to the province is that 78 percent of its 415 employees live in Bulacan.

It collects the waste paper at bailing stations all over the country, which are supplied by junk shop operators who buy from scavengers and bote-dyaryo boys. Central  Luzon’s paper waste thus comes full circle in UPPC where they are turned into usable paper.

In 2006, UPPC was given a blue rating (good rating based on the regional industrial ecowatch program) and is awaiting the awarding of green rating (very good) for 2007.

SCG’s vision for UPPC is to be the most preferred paper supplier in the Philippines and be internationally competitive, creating success through quality, fairness and innovativeness with a deep concern for the environment.

SCG is Thailand’s leading conglomerate with five strategic businesses:  chemical, paper, cement, building materials and distribution. It has over 100 companies, employing 24,000 people.

BARANGAY IBA ESTE

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