Go green, save money with sugarcane paper

BRUNEI - Singapore-based green printing solutions company Green Prints is waiting to receive endorsement from the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (Jastre) so it can begin retailing what it sees will be the cheapest green paper solution in the Sultanate.

A Singapore-Brunei partnership, Green Prints said there has been a lot of interest from various parties including private sector clients. Jastre, said its locally-based executive director Fatin Ariffin, is also "happy" to see the product coming into the country.

However, she said, the company has to discuss with various suppliers on how best to sell the product as most "has to be bought from photocopier shops".

"We've also been talking to Interhouse who supplies Canon," she added, saying that contacts she has approached via email have expressed interest in the "Cane Fields" brand of sugarcane waste paper.

With environmentally friendly paper currently being priced at a premium in Brunei, the use of it is not so widespread, she admitted, which is a bit of an issue.

Singaporean-based Mark Cheng, the company's director who last visited Brunei as a speaker at this year's National Environment Conference, said he is back to market the sugarcane waste paper, which, he said, is "even more environmentally friendly than wood paper".

The recycled plant fibre paper also uses 20 per cent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sourced wood fibre, he added. FSC, he explained, is sourced from wood forests which are sustainably raised according to the council's regulations and certification for forest management. However, Cheng is hoping to cut out the use of wood fibre; hence Green Prints' sugarcane waste paper venture.

The paper is manufactured in India, Vietnam and Latin America, he said, and is endorsed by a number of environmental organisations including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

"It's a waste product actually, when you extract sugar (from the sugar cane) ... usually the environmentally friendly range is made from recycled paper, or from sustainable sources like the FSC," he said.

"We're coming across as providing the cheapest green solution in Brunei possible. So this paper is actually selling in the market comparatively with the normal grade, not so environmentally friendly paper," Cheng added.

While negotiations are still ongoing to determine the retail price, Fatin said that it will be below B$5 (S$5) per 500 sheet ream of A4 paper, which will be comparative to the typical retail price for standard paper sizes at around B$4.90 from paper suppliers.

Fatin also said that FSC paper currently retails at close to B$5 per ream. "It's expensive compared to the other normal brands sold," she said.

In his opinion, Mark said that the FSC paper is still not the best solution to being environmentally friendly as it is still using wood resources, whilst the sugarcane waste paper is produced from waste materials in the processing of the crop.

Cane Fields is currently retailing in the Indonesian, Indian and Singapore markets, said Cheng, who hopes Brunei will be the next market to accept the product. At present, Green Prints has scheduled meetings with a number of potential clients such as banks, schools and the Heart of Borneo organisation. Cheng added that some companies "have expressed sole distributorship" and the company is keen to explore that option.

Green Prints is also looking to explore opportunities in the printing industry such as the use of "green inks" manufactured from natural resources like soya, he said.