One million tons of renewable and recoverable materials from throughout the UK are processed through UPM Shotton each year. Over 99% of this recoverable material is converted into resellable products, either recycled into newsprint, converted to renewable energy, or recycled to other products by either UPM or its partners. Not only is the mill based on using recovered material, it also aims to use every last bit of those recovered resources and waste nothing.
Last November, UPM Shotton landed the 2012 RISI Award for Environmental Strategy of the Year (Mill) beating out a tough field of mills worldwide who have all taken a closer look at how recovered materials should be an integral part of the papermaking process.
Commenting on the award, the judges said, "The importance of environmental issues keeps growing in the pulp and paper industry and this can be clearly seen in the entries we received. The judges felt the winner [in this category] was a great example of resource efficiency combined with pragmatic strategic planning - securing valuable supply chains for the mill and adding value to the other waste fractions at the same time."
Located in North Wales, UPM Shotton began production in 1985. Its primary produces newsprint and the mill generates approximately 500,000 tons annually from two paper machine lines. With more than 400 employees on site, the mill supports more than 2,000 indirect jobs in the region.
However, since 2005, UPM Shotton has undergone a transformation. Where there was once simply a recycled pulp and papermaking mill, the facility now has several additional support centers that supply materials to the mill and convert end products, including a RCF pulper for processing rejects, a solid recovered fuels partnership, and a lease for Eirgrid Energy.
"Resource scarcity will be a key future issue for everybody and one reason why UPM has focused on material and resource effectiveness - creating more with less is almost a mantra for the company's operations," says John Sanderson, Director of Environmental Market Support, UPM. "We have developed innovative ways to reduce our own waste and reuse waste in new products, leading to highly sustainable use of resources. And one of the best examples of the company's thinking and resource effectiveness is the zero waste strategy at Shotton Paper Mill."
From an industrial wasteland in the 1970s to UPM Shotton today.
One of the more interesting aspects of the UPM Shotton is the UPM Materials Recovery and Recycling Facility (MRRF), built adjacent to the mill. To meet the mill's recycling capacity, UPM needed to support not just source-segregated materials but also comingled waste sources. This state-of-the-art sorting facility also helps UPM Shotton stay on top of changes in how recycled materials arrive at the mill.
Partnering with Machinex to build the facility, the single-stream MRRF is designed to process over 270,000 tons a year of recyclables from comingled collections from local authorities in the UK. This includes papers, cartons, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal containers. The MRRF, in order to complement the existing paper-making operations at UPM's Shotton site which presently recovers 640, 000 tons of waste paper and recycles this into newsprint each year, derives approximately 120,000 tons of high quality recovered paper. This recovered paper is then sent from the MRF to the paper mill through a tunnel connecting the two buildings.
Even with a world class-leading recycling and sorting facility, there is the inevitable fraction of waste that remains at the end of sorting and cannot be used directly in the papermaking process. Ordinarily, this small amount of waste would be sent to a landfill. But not at UPM Shotton.
In the mill's effort to achieve zero waste, this final material is autoclaved through a partnership with a local recycling facility to produce a fiber fuel. This fuel is returned to UPM Shotton as a renewable fuel source for the mill's cogeneration (CHP) plant.
The mill has also thought about how to handle any contaminants in the waste paper. These are removed during the initial re-pulping of the waste paper, but again are not sent to the landfill. Through a partnership with a local wet materials recovery facility, the waste from these pulpers is sorted further for any materials that can be reused. Waste plastics are recovered, pelletized and used in the manufacture of recycled plastic railways sleeps and roadside curbs. And any further residue remaining is turned into a solid fuel that is returned to UPM Shotton's cogeneration plant for renewable energy.