As the world moves toward sustainable packaging, and Ecuador's shrimp and banana exports continue to climb, Papelesa Group is integrating Sustainable Development Goals, AI, and cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of the competition.

How has the cardboard and paperboard industry developed in recent years?

The paper and cardboard industry faces new challenges in Ecuador due to the global trend of saving resources and the digital era. The packaging sector generally grows based on the growth of the population, and the future is promising because of the extensive use of packaging by large shopping chains. Ecuador is a large consumer of cardboard because it is a leader in the export of bananas. In 2017, 326 million boxes were used for bananas and this is on a growth trend. The cardboard industry enhances its presence and usefulness, since it is considered a biodegradable product that is in favor of the environment.

Could you tell us more about your customers?

Technological changes are part of the industrial development, and this leads us to be innovators in a consistent way by providing our customers with a different product with added value. We work in different sectors: banana, shrimp, converter, floriculture, industrial, non-traditional, fishing, and folding. The paper and cardboard industry is broad, and it has the privilege of knowing what happens in different sectors of the economy. When the economy is activated, there is a higher consumption of boxes. Our technology allows us to have products manufactured with excellent materials, excellent service, and extremely competitive prices. To guarantee the excellence of our products, we have an integrated management system that guarantees our processes. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of our team, we have acquired ISO 9001: 2015, accredited by the Ecuadorian Accreditation Service (SAE) and the National Accreditation Board ANSI-ASQ (ANAB) of the US; OHSAS 18001: 2007, the Occupational Health and Safety System, accredited by the National Accreditation Body of Colombia (ONAC); Business Alliance for Secure Commerce (BASC), which generates a culture of safety in all processes related to the logistics chain; FSC chain of custody, a certification from the Forest Stewardship Council that guarantees our products come from responsible forest management; and SMETA (Sedex), an ethical trade audit based on four pillars: safety and health, labor standards, environmental management, and business integrity. Additionally, we have implemented SAP software, which provides us with real-time updates to search for solutions that are aligned with the most important trends in the industry and allows us to make better decisions and be strategic in the business.

How do you approach sustainability in your production?

Sustainability is one of the strategic pillars of the company. We work with materials that take care of the environment and are sustainable in the long term. In addition, we support and encourage the circular economy and we have optimized management of our resources. As part of this initiative, several technical areas will use solar energy in the new plant. Our products are inspired by future generations who are more aware of the need to be organic. We are a socially responsible company, and we are working on projects aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that directly influence our business with the mission of contributing to the development of the country by generating value in education and sources of employment.

What is your vision for 2019?

We are in the process of industrial transformation, where technology and innovation are paramount axes in our company. The group is investing USD30 million in the construction of a new plant with cutting-edge infrastructure and German machinery, increasing our production capacity significantly. We are talking about Industry 4.0, where robotics and artificial intelligence play a significant role in our processes. This investment will generate positive benefits for national development. Our industry will continue with an expansion plan of technological development, increasing technical capacity, and generating work sources.