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News from the 2014 PCA International Conference in Seattle, WA

Wednesday, October 8, 2014  
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2014 International Conference Report

Over 200 attendees from 25 countries gathered in Seattle, Washington from 21-23 September to participate in the 2014 PCA International Conference, “Innovation in Pine Chemicals.” Recent industry advances and innovations in developing new products and processes were the main topics of presentations and discussions. Beginning with our nightly receptions, the diverse group of participants – encompassing suppliers, producers and customers – had a multitude of occasions for networking and progressing business relationships with leaders in the pine chemicals industry from around the world.

Following are highlights of each expert speaker’s presentation.

Our keynote speaker, Herb Meyer, served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. His experience as a forecaster of future world conditions led to an insightful analysis of today’s geopolitical landscape. His premise was that the world is becoming “modernized,” a process that he emphasized could take decades, if not centuries. He encouraged us to be optimistic in spite of the turmoil we see today, and cited the vast numbers of people emerging from poverty – over 100 million annually - , gaining some disposable income and moving into the middle class. He explained how innovations geared to this population will help mitigate the challenges of aging societies and create new business opportunities.

Melissa Kuo, a Process Engineer at Clearwater Paper Corporation in Lewiston, Idaho, discussed how her company leveraged continuous improvement principles to drive environmental sustainability. Clearwater established cross-functional teams that included hourly employees through vice presidents who worked together to identify, evaluate and implement the projects that would add the greatest value to the organization. The teams focused first on low or no cost solutions and then on more significant capital projects. The results to date are a 7.7% water reduction, 12.7% energy reduction and 23% BOD reduction.

Catharina Post, Manager of Research and Development at Plasmine Technology, described how the company moved beyond “old” rosin sizing chemistry – which has been used in papermaking for over 200 years – and have created new rosin based sizing products with unique new properties, efficiencies and much wider pH ranges. Through collaboration with Plasmine’s Japanese parent company, they were able to overcome challenges including meeting the U.S. TSCA and FDA regulatory requirements. Because the company’s U.S. customers export paper around the world, Plasmine continues to tackle the regulatory challenges of bringing their new products to a global marketplace.

Alejandro (Alex) Cunningham, Founder and President of AR Eldorado, a consulting firm specializing in crude gum (pine oleoresin) production and industrialization, advocated for sustainable pine tapping practices. Acknowledging that many of the tapping techniques used today have not been updated for decades, Alex focused on the need for “productive harmony” and “fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.” He proposed a pine tapping industry that is profitable and sustainable for all stakeholders, including workers who receive fair pay and forests that are replanted as an integral part of production. Alex documented the differences in forest management and tapping between producers in the northern and southern hemispheres. He compared the productivity of plantations in Brazil and Argentina which use more modern techniques with other areas managing slower growing forests and forests that required significantly more intensive labor effort and cost for the same yield.

Jack DiMaggio, Vice President Marketing and Sales for Callison Pacific Pine Chemicals, explained how his company established a mutually beneficial relationship with the Fiji government to develop a vertically integrated gum rosin and turpentine business. Using sustainable harvesting methods and ensuring rights of workers and other indigenous stakeholders, this enterprise is developing in a way that aligns favorably with global economic development and satisfaction of customer needs.

Gary Peter, Ph.D. is a Professor of Forest Resources and Conservation, Genetics Institute, Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at the University of Florida. His innovative research involves application of genetic engineering to increase the pine terpene supply. He has identified several traits that are heritable and genetically correlated with higher resin production, and is demonstrating to landowners how they can increase their oleoresin production without degrading the quality of the wood.

Jerry Smith is a consultant who works with PCA’s EHS and BP Recovery Committees. He described innovative safety programs developed by the three corporations that were awarded this year’s Facility Safety and Health Excellence Awards. MeadWestvaco’s Positive Safety Contact Program focused on improving frontline communications so they emphasize the positive – with corrective feedback only provided during separate conversations. The positive approach resulted in easier conversations about at-risk behavior in the context of a safety culture.

Employees at the Plasmine Technology plant in Bay Minette, Alabama participated in the company’s PICS Program, in which everyone was  encouraged to take digital photos of any condition in need of correction. The program led to improved plant appearance, functionality and safety with over 1300 improvement areas noted and over 95% completion of the identified projects.

RockTenn’s tall oil plant implemented a five step program consisting of: “Sorting” unneeded items; “Simplying” by arranging needed items in an orderly way; “Shining” – or creating a spotless workplace; “Standardizing” cleanup activities; and “Sustaining” compliant behaviors.

Michel Baumassy, Sales Executive at Forchem Oy, provided an overview of the evolution of all segments of rosin production and the growth of the pine chemicals industry up to current times. He cited the changes in gum rosin production across the globe and the evolution of the tall oil industry from the 1940’s to today.  The industry has endured many difficulties but has innovated over the years to provide a very strong and sustainable industry today.  He provided data for the historical production and demand trends for CTO, CST, TOFA and TOR; explained global resin market conditions through last year; predicted consistent profitability and high production rates for pine chemicals; and recognized the industry’s position at the forefront of the growing bio-based economy and at the center of the forest-products value chain.

The Gum Rosin Committee met on Monday afternoon of the conference to review the committee’s objectives and scope. Chaired by Alex Cunningham, discussion focused on a plan to introduce a new Educational Symposium on Gum Rosin and Turpentine production technology and forestry management.  The Conference would include papers on best practices in oleoresin tapping and collection and latest technologies in forestry management that would allow businesses to maximize the efficiency of labor and oleoresin production.   The committee agreed that such a rosin symposium was a good idea and the PCA will move forward in planning this new program with a possible conference in late 2015.  The Symposium would be designed for tappers, forestry mangers, and oleoresin producers and would provide information on safe practices, logistics, tapping and collection techniques, forestry management, hybrid forestry based on genetic improvements and would feature basic “how to” discussions as well as explanations on the biology and function of a pine tree.  The Symposium would run for 2 days.  More to come as this plan is developed.  If anyone is interested in presenting at the planned symposium please let us know.  

PCA itself introduced several innovations in 2014. These include compiling a new statistical report on pine chemicals imports and exports from 44 countries around the world - now available to members - , conducting a 2 day course on turpentine, soap and CTO recovery techniques, initiating the Safety and Health Excellence Awards program, and beginning a global communications program about the pine chemical industry position on key issues.

Our 2015 Spring Meeting will be held in Orlando, Florida from 15-17 April, 2015 and the 2015 PCA International Conference will be held in Kyoto, Japan from 13-15 September, 2015. Please join us!

Regards,

Charlie Morris, President & COO