From clothing and home textiles to baby wipes and beauty products, Sateri touches lives every day through its production of high-quality, all-natural viscose rayon. Established in 2002 as China’s first wholly foreign-owned cellulose enterprise, Sateri is now the largest maker of viscose fibre in China – with three mills and an annual capacity of 600,000 tonnes.
In 2010, Tey Wei Lin was appointed as Sateri’s Non-Executive Director and in 2012 he was named CEO and Executive Director. Alongside these responsibilities, Wei Lin is President of Royal Golden Eagle Group, which oversees a conglomerate of companies – including Sateri – that focus on resource-based manufacturing, ranging from pulp and paper to palm oil to energy.
“When I took over Sateri in 2012 it was a relatively small player with only one mill. We were ranked about tenth in the world in terms of size,” Wei Lin comments. “With 1.3 billion people, the Chinese market is huge and as it has grown, we have grown with it. Because we had the renewable plantations and raw materials provided by the Royal Golden Eagle Group, we saw an opportunity to grow. We had the materials, we had the market opportunity, and we have grown by four times over the past four years.
Number one viscose fibre producer in the world
We went from one mill with a capacity of 150,000 tonnes to three mills with a capacity of 600,000 tonnes, making us the largest in China and number three in the world,” says Wei Lin.
“And we’re not stopping there: we have plans to grow by five times by 2025 – reaching an annual capacity of three million tonnes – and to be the number one viscose fibre producer in the world. But we don’t want to just be the largest, we want to be the best. Because we have strict control over our supply chain, we are able to focus on developing the highest-quality products for customers. At the end of the day, a win for our customers is a win for us.”
Having said that, he understands that an overwhelming challenge lies in changing people’s perceptions about viscose. “Many are under the impression that it is some kind of chemical-based synthetic material, when it is really a natural, renewable and breathable fibre made from trees,” explains Wei Lin.
“Now, more than ever, people want to know where their products come from and how they are made. Instead of seeing this as a challenge, I like to see it as an opportunity to make our business more transparent while educating consumers along our entire supply chain.”
Sustainability, protection and production
Sateri is committed to sustainability, environmental protection and responsible production, from start to finish. Its plants in China have Chain of Custody certification and are certified under ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
“At Sateri, sustainability is the only way to go because it’s our licence to operate. We have a policy of sourcing wood-pulp from reputable suppliers who manage their plantations responsibly and are committed to emissions targets that are well below industry standards in China,” says Wei Lin.
Sateri’s stringent Pulp Sourcing Policy and Sustainability Policy underpin its commitment to the environment. It does not source from forests of high conservation value or high carbon stock, or from the habitats of endangered species. Instead, much of its pulp comes from eucalyptus plantations that allow for rapid reforestation.
“We have made it very clear to our suppliers that we hold ourselves to world-class standards and, therefore, the same applies to them. If they don’t fulfil those standards, we put them on notice and we help them improve. We can influence our suppliers to do better and, eventually, we can influence brands and consumers to make the right choices,” says Wei Lin.
A commitment to the community
This commitment to sustainability extends to communities. Sateri’s activities include donating library books, helping with disaster relief, working with fire departments on safety campaigns, supporting cultural activities, and conducting environmental awareness training. “If the community benefits, we benefit,” says Wei Lin.
Sustainability is the only way to go because it’s our licence to operate.
He believes that Sateri must aim higher than government-set standards and he works hard to align the organisation with sustainable objectives. “I believe that culture sets the tone for the entire company, and it all starts with me.”
In April 2017, Sateri signed an investment agreement with the municipal government of Jiujiang in Jiangxi province to expand its viscose fibre capacity by up to
one million tonnes per year. With this expansion, the company’s total capacity in Jiujiang city is expected to exceed two million tonnes per year, advancing Sateri’s plans to become the world’s largest producer of viscose fibre.
“As we expand our operations, we embrace our vital role in the global supply chain for fabrics, fashion and hygiene products to deliver the best viscose fibre in the most responsible and sustainable way. We have been through an exciting journey; we have big plans for the future of viscose.”