Making a point to lead by example | Eastman Innovation Lab

Making a point to lead by example

Innovation Sustainability Collaboration

"This project with Faber-Castell​ is a perfect example of how two global companies worked together to achieve a common goal."

Marcos Basso, Market Development Manager, LAR, Eastman

Flaming pencils

Nitrocellulose is an extremely flammable coating material that is found on various manufactured products used by children including toys and pencils. As a result of a child lighting pencil shavings on fire, a new amendment was added to the Canadian“Consumer Product Safety Law” in 2013. The amendment restricted the use of celluloid and cellulose nitrate in the manufacturing of goods for children. This change impacted pencil manufacturing.

In light of the new law, Faber-Castell, the largest and oldest pencil manufacturer in the world, acted quickly and took steps to review the paint and varnish formulations it used to coat pencils.

“We manufacture around 13 million pencil rasps (package with 12 pencils) a year. It quickly became a priority for us to ensure the safety of our users against highly flammable material,” explained Vladimir Barroso, Research and DevelopmentDivision Manager for Faber-Castell.



The Faber-Castell unit in Brazil, located in São Carlos, is where the majority of the pencils are produced and exported to more than 70 countries. For Faber-Castell this Latin American region was the bulls-eye of pencil manufacturing and quickly became a priority for the implementation of an alternate material solution that was safe and sustainable. 


Eastman™ Cellulose Esters

Eastman™ cellulose esters (CAB, CAP, and CA) are versatile problem solvers made from a green, sustainable and renewable resource—like building blocks made from wood. They have the parent name of cellulose esters because esters are the name used when acids and alcohols are derived from a raw material. You can find this raw material in many coating applications. In automotive coatings, just like with pencils, it’s flame-resistant, offers a faster dry time and provides a seamless shine and brighter color.


Drawing from material expertise

“It happened very fast. We had to think with agility and in a week, we had found a sustainable solution and completed all the tests that showed the quality of the new formula we developed with the help of Eastman while maintaining our process and performance conditions,” Barroso said.

What made the collaboration such a natural fit is the perfect balance of safety and sustainability. Eastman materials are consistent with the Faber-Castell principles of social and environmental responsibility. The company has certification from the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), the highest authority for wood production evaluation and social and environmentally sustainable forest management. This stamp ensures the consumer of the materials used in product manufacturing come from environmentally
adequate sources.  


Leaving a mark that’s sustainable

The solution Faber-Castell implemented involved substituting nitrocellulose used in paints and varnishes with Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) and Cellulose Acetate Propionate (CAP). These raw materials are made originally from renewable sources, a point of pride for Eastman.

With the assistance of Eastman, Faber-Castell quickly found the solution it needed. The non-flammable material substitution would not impact the quality of their product, and provide a safer solution for their users and continue to uphold their sustainable principals of economic growth, environmental management, and social responsibility.  

“Together with Eastman, we were able to assess the situation, do what’s in the best interest of our users and fix the problem,” Barroso noted.


Faber Castell - Making a Point to lead by Example