The Graphic paper mill, game-changer
Last Thursday, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, announced in the 2023 Budget and Economic Policy of the government how it will support the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) to go into the production of paper.
He said the raw material would mainly be from rice and sugarcane waste.
Over the centuries, paper has been made from a wide variety of materials such as cotton, wheat straw, sugar cane waste, bamboo, wood, linen rags, hemp and other ingredients.
These are used because they are good sources of vegetable fibre, which is the main ingredient for making paper. Today, the fibre is sourced mainly from wood and recycled paper products.
Prior to the invention and adoption of the Fourdrinier machine and other types of paper machine that use an endless belt, all paper in a paper mill was made by hand, one sheet at a time, by specialised labourers.
It started in Asia and Europe, specifically the Catalan region of Spain, before spreading to England and other parts of the world in the 15th century. Currently, the three basic types of mills are the pulp, recycled paper processing mills and mills that use both recycled and virgin fibre.
The mills, once set up, can stay for the next 50 to 60 years with some reengineering and use of new technology.
The Daily Graphic believes the move is in the right direction for a number of reasons. It can help the country to cut down on its paper import bill. It will help effective recycling of paper waste in the country, thereby saving the environment.
Furthermore, it will create jobs and raise foreign exchange from exports to neighbouring countries since the feat will become the first paper mill in Africa.
Also, since paper milling is done with other ingredients such as glue and starch, this will be good news for the cassava cultivated and rubber produce in the tropical forest areas and can be another avenue for an integrated system where all raw materials will be sourced locally to feed the mill.
Besides the proposed raw material sourced from the ‘Economic Enclave’ at Asutuare, there are more rice and sugar cane plantations in the offing which will serve as a dedicated raw material base for the enterprise.
In addition, the country is heavily dependent on paper, which is used in almost every venture. Paper is used in packaging and for producing reading materials.
For offices, where there is heavy reliance on paper, about a third is wasted at every point in the production process. Even offices that depend on paperless operations are unable to absolutely move away from its use.
This means there is a case to be made for its recycling to save the environment and also cut back on the import bill to save the local currency.
It has been too long since this country started paying lip service to the reduction of its import bill to make its local currency stronger.
This is why the government’s partnership with the Graphic Communications Group Ltd will be a game-changer.
This is a good start and the Daily Graphic calls on all stakeholders to put their shoulders to the wheel to make the venture worthwhile and successful.
The GCGL itself is a paper-based organisation that can rely on its waste paper as a starting point. Although not enough to feed a 20-tonne-a-day mill, a system can be created for the nationwide collection of shredded paper from offices, shops and other organisations to feed the mill.
The Daily Graphic and its mother company, the GCGL, as well as sister companies such as G-PAK and Graphic Courier, are all in pole position to support the process and the technical teams that will work on the project.
We call on Ghanaians to fully support the project and also provide ideas and other inputs that can make this a resounding success.