The article describes the evolving process of paper production, outlining the main stages involved in generating and innovating high-quality products using a sustainable approach.

Paper today is an industrial product obtained through machines capable of producing thin and highly flexible sheets, thanks to substances rich in plant fibers obtained through aqueous deposition.

Most paper is produced starting from wood pulp rich in cellulose, which is shredded in large containers with the addition of water and subjected to mechanical pressures with rotating blades. After further washes, the material is transformed into large sheets of paper using machinery of various sizes and characteristics. Finally, the paper sheets are further processed according to production needs.

Paper production involves industrial processes that have environmental impacts related to the use of raw materials and energy.

Evolving the paper production process means generating quality products while being sustainable.

Sustainability is understood as:

  • Innovation in business models, industrial processes, infrastructure, and services;
  • Progress and evolution, in a measurable and transparent manner.

Sustainability, with its three pillars—environmental, social, and economic—becomes an essential reference value in corporate strategies. Sustainability is seen as a strategic driver that creates value.

Based on the principles of corporate social responsibility, a sustainable company contributes to environmental protection and social progress. A company that prioritizes environmental respect in its decisions is viewed as reliable, forward-thinking, and capable of generating value.

Adopting a sustainable approach entails making a strategic choice because innovating business models, improving resource efficiency, reducing environmental impacts, is crucial for economic competitiveness and productivity.

Over time, the paper supply chain has become increasingly aware of its responsibility and potential in terms of efficient use of natural resources, responsible forest management, use of recycled materials, and recovery and enhancement of production waste.

Innovating business processes means bringing improvement in terms of:

  • Improved efficiency in resource use;
  • Reduced environmental impact;
  • Energy savings;
  • Containment of CO2 emissions.

The paper production cycle begins with the entry of raw materials, the so-called stock preparation phase, continues with processing, and concludes with obtaining the finished product.

The main components of paper are natural and renewable, and the products, after their use, are recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable. The raw material used mainly comes from wood, the most widely available source of cellulose in nature.

The paper industry, traditionally focused on the use of poor and waste resources, has developed technologies that allow for the recycling of cellulose fibers.

For a paper company, introducing sustainable raw materials into the production process means stocking certified materials for sustainable forest management and the regenerative capacity of natural capital.

In Italy, over 90% of virgin fibers used by the paper industry come from forests certified according to internationally recognized sustainable management schemes.

Stock Preparation In the paper sector, stock preparation refers to the suspension of the raw material, namely cellulose, in water, which is introduced into a pulper machine.

The pulper is a steel tank where the cellulose is mixed with water from the clarification process to form a homogeneous pulp.

In this phase, water plays a crucial role in terms of corporate sustainability in the paper industry.

Water resource management, which translates into consumption containment and water withdrawals, presents several critical issues, largely due to increasing demand pressures compared to natural availability.

Innovating business processes in a sustainable manner also means efficiently using water, allowing for water savings, reduced losses, and proper management.

Sheet Formation and Drying Sheet formation and drying are the subsequent stages of the paper production process after stock preparation. The uniformity, strength, and grammage of the paper depend on these two phases.

The formation process can be achieved through various techniques, including the wire cloth method, consisting of a continuous rotating mesh ring that acts as a sieve. The cellulose pulp is poured onto a draining surface that allows water to drain off and separates cellulose from other impurities.

Subsequently, the filtration and pressing process begins, during which water is separated from cellulose through the action of rollers or mechanical pressures.

The final phase involves drying the sheet with hot air and steam. This process compacts the cellulose and transforms it into a sheet of paper.

The water resulting from this process is partly recycled and partly discharged.

According to the Environmental Report of the Italian paper industry 2019 by Assocarta, water consumption has significantly decreased over time: about 50% is continuously recycled and reintegrated into the production process.

Final Processing The final phase of the paper production process involves preparing the paper for sale or final use.

During this phase, the continuous sheet is rolled into large reels at the end of the machine. The paper can be cut into specific sizes, folded, printed, or packaged according to requirements.

Paper packaging techniques have been the subject of innovation in recent years, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of the production process. For example, several companies in the paper sector use packaging made from recycled and biodegradable materials or seek to reduce usage.

One of the important indicators for measuring a company’s environmental sustainability is the use of renewable and/or recycled materials. Even in the packaging phase, materials used predominantly come from recycling activities.

Cartiere Carrara is one of the leading companies in Italy and Europe in integrated tissue paper production. With 7 production sites in Italy and 800 employees, it has a production capacity of 300,000 tons per year of pure cellulose tissue paper and recycled paper, serving customers in 50 European and non-European countries

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The Cartiere Carrara Group celebrates 150 years of history.

The Cartiere Carrara Group celebrates 150 years of history.

The Cartiere Carrara Group celebrates 150 years of history.

With the acquisition of the Caldaroni Group, the Cartiere Carrara Group is born, paving the way for new growth and future goals.

The Carrara family’s activities are brought back together under the aegis of Cartiere Carrara S.p.A., thus unifying their resources and consolidating their position in the industry.

Mario Carrara’s branch of the family decides to resume the activities previously excluded from the 2002 transfer, starting from Cartiera Carma, of which it had always maintained exclusive ownership. With fresh new impetus, the family re-enters the professional and consumer tissue market.

The turn of the millennium brings new opportunities. Cartoinvest is sold to the multinational SCA.

Cartoinvest becomes the exclusive licensee of the Kleenex brand for Europe, thus confirming its leadership in the European tissue market.

The Cartoinvest Group is founded, and takes control of no less than twelve companies in Italy and in Europe, further strengthening their presence and influence in the industry.

The historical plant in Pietrabuona starts its first continuous machine for tissue paper, introducing remarkable technological innovations in the manufacturing process.

The Carrara family makes its debut in the paper manufacturing business, opening a paper mill in Pietrabuona to make straw paper.