Magna disrupts paper industry with 'mineral stone paper'

Local chemical research & development startup is looking into nano-technology and bio-based technology.

FOR most of us, paper comes from trees. But for chemical research and development firm Magna International, paper can also be a combination of natural chemical compounds.

Known officially as the Vappro 830 Vapor Corrosion Inhibiting (VCI) Mineral Stone Paper, the paper is made of chemicals such as calcium carbonate and silica powder, materials that are in abundance in the natural environment.

Though stone paper is nothing new, Magna's innovation takes the paper a level higher. The infusion of vapor corrosion-inhibiting chemicals increases the paper's durability and shelf life, ultimately saving the environment.

Magna founder and chief executive Nelson Cheng labels the new innovation as "disruptive technology", as he believes that in the next two to three years, it will change the way paper is conventionally manufactured. Magna has already patented the product in Singapore and in some other countries, including Sweden.

Product of transition

Apart from the patent, the VCI mineral stone paper has made its mark through awards. Magna has won multiple awards on the national and regional stages, and had the honour of recently winning at the prestigious WorldStar Packaging Award.

Dr Cheng, who had humble beginnings as a sales manager before he ventured out on his own, explains that the idea of creating the VCI mineral stone paper stemmed from the transition of their business approach.

Magna started out in 1990 as a chemical research and development company with a focus on cleaning chemicals. Now, the company has changed slightly over the years, expanding its scope to over 1,000 products across eight different categories that include cleaning chemicals, lubricants and corrosion inhibitors.

The company's latest transition was six years ago when it made the commitment to consciously take a more environmentally friendly slant to its business decisions.

That consciousness with regard to the environment is a mindset that Dr Cheng carries with him as he reminds people that pulp paper manufacturing is the third most polluting industry in the world. "So if you want to talk about pollution, the first thing you need to do is to reduce or stop the cutting down of trees," Dr Cheng says, though he does add that completely stopping the pulp paper industry would be incredibly difficult, even impossible.

One step ahead

Despite patenting the award-winning innovation, Magna is far from slowing down. Continuing its role as a pioneer company in making the earth more sustainable, the company is currently looking into nano-technology and bio-based technology.

"The purpose of nano-technology is to reduce the use of raw materials," Dr Cheng explains. A believer in constant improvement, he is leading the company to synthesising nano-lubricants so that they too can use less resources. This will not only help save the earth, it will also help the company reduce costs.

Bio-based technology refers to Magna's active research and development of bio-based oils that will be able to dissolve within five to seven days and thus will not poison the waters.

Awareness about Singapore firms

Moving away from the business aspect of things, Magna hopes to raise awareness about a couple things. First, Magna hopes to remove the stigma surrounding the quality of Singaporean companies and their products.

"Singapore is a good brand now, especially in China. Our brand carries a lot of weight," Dr Cheng points out.

He further explains that the colonial supremacy mindset has made Singaporeans blind to the quality of locally made products that Dr Cheng believes are comparable, if not better.

Armed with the WorldStar Packaging Award, and their other commendations, the company hopes to gain awareness and to partner more Singaporean brands.

Another thing that Magna hopes to do is to lead by example to inspire active change to encourage sustainability.

"We only have one earth so everybody has the responsibility to save it," adds Dr Cheng.