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Company aims to digitize paper-recycling industry

Patrick Kennedy, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Science & Technology News

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A Minnesota company hopes a new partnership will help make the movement of recycled paper goods more efficient.

Third-party logistics provider C.H. Robinson will work with MerQbiz -- a joint venture between German technology group Voith and Boston Consulting Group's Digital Ventures -- to allow buyers and sellers of recycled paper products to arrange transportation on the same platform they use to book paper orders.

The companies say it is the first marketplace of its kind in North America.

Recovered paper is a key ingredient for most paper manufacturers. Sourcing that material has traditionally relied on faxes and phone calls.

Robinson's participation will make the calculation of transportation costs easier and more transparent, the company said.

"We know the industry, and we see the inefficiencies in it," said Chris O'Brien, Robinson's chief commercial officer.

In an industry where a large physical volume can be purchased cheaply, the transportation cost of those goods is a key component to a profitable trade.

O'Brien, who has been with Robinson for 25 years, said the paper industry is about 7 percent of the company's business.

"I can't think of a time in our modern history where we haven't been a participant in the paper industry," he said.

Robinson has long helped traditional and e-commerce retailers move the loads of cardboard packaging and other paper goods they accumulate daily to most of the large paper producers and large recyclers throughout the industry.

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