“In order to continue being sustainable we need to have more eucalyptus forest,” the manager said on Monday, according to a report by SAPO, during the 70-year commemoration of the Navigator factory opening in Cacia, Aveiro.

In his speech, António Redondo talked about the need to “demystify that which people don’t know about the species, which they condemn out of ignorance,” appealing to those people that they “value a unique species that Portugal can be proud of.”

The CEO didn’t want to elaborate further when questioned by Lusa on the matter, but a company source says there’s currently a deficit of forest resources like eucalyptus, pine and cork oak, which will have future consequences on the cellulose industry.

The expansion of eucalyptus has been seen by environmentalists and some political parties as one of the problems that have contributed to forest fires in Portugal, leading the Government to create conditions for the planting and farming of the tree.

The executive president of Navigator also announced the launch of a new production unit in the Cacia factory in the first half of 2024 for moulded cellulose pieces for the food industry.

“We’re contributing this way to ‘deplastification’,” the same executive claimed, adding that this unit will produce 100 million packages a year meant to replace plastic packaging in the food service and food packaging markets.

Production started at the then-called Portuguese Cellulose Company’s Cacia factory on July 23rd, 1953.

Nowadays, the Cacia industrial complex contains a biomass production plant and a thermoelectric biomass plant to produce renewable energy.

According to company data, almost 200 thousand tons of paper paste and around 50 thousand tons of tissue came out of this factory in 2022 to be sent to 40 countries worldwide.

Navigator is the third biggest exporter in Portugal and the biggest generator of National Additional Value, representing approximately 1% of the national GDP, around 3% of national goods exports, and employs over 30 thousand people directly and indirectly.

Last year, The Navigator Company had a revenue of 2.465 billion euros. Over 80% of the group’s products are sold outside of Portugal to 130 countries.