Exclusive Interview with Emily Williams of Michelman
What are some of the biggest challenges that the specialty papers industry is currently facing? What are some of the biggest opportunities?
I think the main challenge in this market is selecting the right opportunities to pursue. There is a surplus of opportunities for specialty paper because of the many plastic-bans and increased consumer perception of the sustainable benefits of paper versus plastic. The challenge is gathering the pertinent information and then prioritizing and selecting the right opportunities that fit your resources and timeline.
Why is sustainability so important to this industry and its future?
Sustainability is vital to the future of every industry. It is not a trend anymore; it is a global consumer concern and requires thought and action by all. Consumers see the impact of their purchases on the world and want to make sustainable choices. If you want to continue to have a viable business, you need sustainable products.
What does Michelman hope to achieve over the next 5 years with regards to sustainable solutions?
We are working hard to develop bio-based alternatives to fossil fuel-based coatings that can provide environmental improvements, as well as end-of-life options that fit within the circular economy model: repulpable, recyclable, and compostable.
Your presentation at this year’s Specialty Papers US conference will discuss compostable solutions for food service packaging. What are some of the key take-aways?
I want attendees to understand that developing compostable packaging is difficult, but certainly not impossible. It is essential not to make assumptions and to have all the relevant information you need in advance before getting too far down the development path. It is important to avoid adding confusion to an already confusing marketplace.
What are you most looking forward to hearing about at this year’s conference?
I look forward to all the important discussions generated at this conference. There are so many interesting presentations that I find it hard to pick just one!