Paper industry experts have told of their support following the news that a new container board mill is to be built in Manchester.
Owned by Spanish paper and packaging firm SAICA, the paper mill will be capable of producing 400,000 tonnes of recycled container board once it begins production in 2012. (see MRW story)
According to figures from the Confederation of Paper Industries, over 13 million tonnes of paper and board products are consumed in the UK but less than five million tonnes are manufactured domestically.
CPI recovered paper sector manager Peter Seggie said: In terms of the recovered paper industry; SAICA presents a great opportunity to increase the domestic recycling level of UK recovered paper of which, over 50% is currently exported, predominantly to the Far East, for recycling."
PALM and SAICA are very positive investments in the UK and will create skilled employment and reduce the UK trade imbalance in paper products. However, for more investment to be forthcoming UK government policy must support growth in the manufacturing sector if investments like PALM and SAICA are to be replicated in the future.
In 2009, the Norfolk-based PALM paper mill began operating. It is the biggest newsprint mill in the world, designed to process 400,000 tonnes of paper.
Severnside - owned by recycled paper and cardbard producer St Regis, which are apart of the packaging firm DS Smith Group - commented: As a recycling business with our own fibre reprocessing and production facilities, Severnside has always promoted landfill avoidance and minimising carbon footprint, so we welcome any move that improves the UKs ability to reprocess fibre within our own shores and reduces reliance on overseas facilities.
However, with such a big change to the UK containerboard industry, there was concern that the new mill may force consolidation of operations in the industry.
ACN Europe - the main supplier of recovered paper to Chinas largest containerboard producer Nine Dragons - managing director Wade Schuetzeberg said: Weve lost container board capacity in the UK over the last six to eight years as the trend for lighter weight packaging has increased, so many firms consolidated.
Recently, three large mills have been built in Europe and with all these new capacities someone is going to lose out and it will force further consolidation in the UK and European industry.
Schuetzeberg explained that, although it is hard to predict what the market conditions will be like in 2012, there will need to be a lot of support locally in order to spur collections for more recovered material.