Iggesund Paperboard inaugurates biomass CHP plant in Workington, UK

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Iggesund Paperboard inaugurates biomass CHP plant in Workington, UK

June 03, 2013 - 07:46

Iggesund Paperboard’s recent investment is impressive – a new biomass boiler to dramatically reduce fossil carbon emissions is a strategic move to make the mill a truly self-sufficient facility. With its 400 employees Iggesund Paperboard in Workington stands alone in the British market – it is the UK’s only producer of folding boxboard.

Its Incada paperboard, made at the mill, is constructed of a central layer made of mechanical pulp produced on site, which gives a low weight combined with high stiffness. The outer layers are made of purchased chemical pulp to create high whiteness and good printability. Incada is currently used for packaging, book and brochure covers and other graphical applications.

The new biomass boiler is helping the company to achieve an annual reduction of fossil carbon emissions, which according the company is equivalent to the emissions from more than 58,000 cars, each driven 20,000 kilometres per year. For Iggesund Paperboard the new boiler also means being self sufficient in electricity and heat, as the mill will also be able to supply green electricity and heat to local residents. The installation of the new biomass plant has been part of an evolutionary process. The mill’s managing director Ola Schultz-Eklund explained: “For more than a decade now Iggesund Paperboard has invested to raise the standard of what was originally a very ordinary paperboard mill to one that is state of the art. Including the £108 million ($ 152 million), spent on the CHP plant, we have invested more than £200 million ($ 305 million) in this transformation.”

“In our investment of this new biomass CHP plant, profitability and reduced climate impact go hand in hand,” Schultz-Eklund continued. “We know that the cost of fossil-based energy will increase faster than that of biomass, so we regard this investment as a way to stabilise our energy costs.

“At the same time our emissions of fossil carbon dioxide from the production process have now fallen to almost zero, which should make us an even more interesting option for the large end users, who have more or less promised consumers that they will both declare and reduce emissions created by the products they sell.”

This is also reiterated by Iggesund’s spokesperson Staffan Sjöberg: “To us it is evident that brand owners and retailers closely monitor both the environmental performance and carbon footprint of each product from each mill. They are not going to put it on the packages, but they want to know in order to ensure that they are not in for any nasty surprises in the future.”

This according to Sjöberg corresponds with a change from plastic to paper-based packaging by many brand leaders for products such as sandwich and computer component packaging.

“The change has not happened by chance. It comes from increased knowledge about the environmental impact of different materials, and switching to paper-based materials enhances the sustainability image of the brand owner,” added Sjöberg

With Iggesund being the only UK producer of folding box board how has it made it a success Sjöberg explained: “Historically UK mills have been under high financial pressure for many years due to the high valuation of the pound. One of the survival factors has been to have a strong market position in the UK, which we have had. The present exchange rate of the pound makes it easier to produce in the UK and be more competitive in other markets such as continental Europe.”

Financial stability has also been key to the success of the company’s Workington mill. Sjöberg concluded: “The last 15 years have moved the products of the Workington Mill, the Incada range, from being average to top notch in its segment. This is the result of continuous investment and development, which had not been possible if we had not had financial stability. If you are not profitable over time, you will not be able to invest and improve your environmental track record.”