The UK paper industry has suffered a blow with the news that a viable export market has been closed for the foreseeable future and possibly for good.
Holmen Paper’s Madrid mill has started production, but it has been announced that no material from the UK will be sent to the site during 2006.
It had originally been estimated that 40,000 tonnes would be sent this year, but with higher quantities now being collected locally, the 80,000 earmarked for delivery from these shores in 2007 now also looks under threat.
Holmen Paper recycling manager Charlie Thomson said: “After starting production, we were surprised to find that we were able to collect more material in Spain than we thought, with our collection company Karpa generating kerbside schemes.
“Spain is very much like the UK in that collection rates are not high and there remains a lot of potential. But it will take a few years to develop the infrastructure, meaning we may use UK paper to top up what we already have.”
At present, accumulated stocks are being used to feed the mill, with supplies being brought in from other parts of Spain and Portugal. While it is not yet at full capacity, a decision on using UK materials for next year is expected during the summer.
Thomson added: “From the company’s perspective, it obviously makes more economic sense to collect locally. But with my UK hat on, I would like the opportunity to supply decent tonnages from here.
“The machine is producing well, but the plan is not to have it up to 100% capacity until next year. Only then can we judge if there is enough available resources in Spain and Portugal and how much of a role the UK will have to play.”
But the company did recently celebrate the shipment of its one millionth tonne from this country, with its Braviken mill the main beneficiary of UK resources.
Braviken de-ink plant manager Magnus Revland said: “Braviken paper mill produces over 700,000 tonnes of newsprint each year. Of this, we consume 350,000 tonnes of recovered paper. In 2005, the UK supplied over 41% of our raw material needs with one of the highest quality standards of all of our recovered paper suppliers.”