Correction: Double A’s Khan-Na trees are not!

February 6, 2013

Bit of an odd title, but it just goes to show the mess one can get into by not researching a press release more fully. Shame on me!

When extolling the virtues of Double A Paper using Khan-Na trees to make paper,(see earlier blog entitled “Oh the times they are a changin'”)  it transpires I was only partially correct. It’s the areas of land between the rice fields that are known as ‘Khan-Na’, the trees themselves appear to be Eucalyptus, though none the worse for that.

I still maintain that Double A should be applauded, especially as the trees regenerate themselves after three consecutive harvesting’s, and only take four years to reach usable size (for pulp/paper-making).

Double A’s website:  estimates that the 100 million trees in their three year cycle scheme “,,,have reduced 6539 million tons of CO2 in the atmosphere” and that a ream of their A4 paper reduces 12.5kg of carbon-dioxide.

I am no mathematician, and no-one has yet to convince me about carbon offsetting, but Double A’s figures are well verified and certainly impressive.

Sadly, if they import their trees into France to make their famous virgin fibre papers in their newly acquired Alizay mill, the whole equation falls to pieces, so it will be interesting to see what the USP will be in a market already flooded with office and printing papers.

That will teach you!

February 5, 2013

Groupo Orsa have announced the closure of their Jari-Cellulose pulp plant at Monte Dourado, in the state of Pará, in Brazil. Built in the 1970’s, the area has been denuded of rain forest, and the mill has used ‘farmed’ Eucalyptus trees for decades to produce high-yield  pulp for the printing and writings paper market.

The owners recognise that part of the difficulties leading to the closure, have been caused by the “…difficult geographic location.” Serves you right you buggers!

There is a slim (very slim) chance that the mill will be re-opened to produce what is called ‘dissolving pulp’, which is still wood based, but the finished product can be dissolved in various chemicals to make anything from rayon yarn to the cellophane that a well-known brand of sticky tape uses with the addition of a coating of glue.

Nothing is known as yet by this author as to what will become of the Eucalyptus plantations, though there are several other (bigger) players already in the general region who will ‘pick-up the slack’.

Light-Weight Magazine Paper Goes All Wavy

January 31, 2013

When in 2011 UPM stated its intention to either sell or close its Stracel integrated pulp and paper mill in Strasbourg, there was little hope for its future. The market for light-weight coated magazine paper – of which Stracel produced something like 270,000 metric tonnes per annum right up until the 4th. of January of this  year – is flooded, not only because of too many units producing too much paper for a diminishing market, but because of that old chestnut, cheap imports from ‘far away places with strange sounding names’.

What future for the 250 or so staff, or the mill? Was this to be yet another scrap and bulldozer exit from the pulp and paper industry?

Well, surprisingly, no. VPK Packaging Group NV (Belgium) and Klingele Papierwerke (Germany) have a joint venture company called Blue Paper SAS, who have now purchased Stracel and all that goes with it (except staff, initially), not to asset strip or anything like that, but to convert the whole operation to produce waste-based fluting and test liner.

The mill is ideally located on the banks of the Rhine, with excellent road and rail links. Further, the parent companies are both major players in the packaging sector, so the majority (if not total) of production will be for ‘in-house’ use, rather than export to the Far East only to come back this way surrounding quality goods (mainly electronics) supplied by those clever people who almost everyone blames for collapsing the Western industrial sector, rather than looking to see if ‘we’ can compete.

The take-over will also mean lots of valuable work for the companies that are transforming the paper machine (Metso), and the stock-preparation system (Kadant). Blue Paper SAS will be looking to re-employ (wherever possible) about 130 of the former UPM Stracel employees, and once the whole shebang is up and running, capacity is expected to be in the region of 400kT p.a.

My only worry, though hopefully unwarranted, is that sooner or later there will be a glut of corrugated casing materials, as there has in the past been gluts of newsprint, magazine papers, coated graphical printing papers, office papers, and the list just goes on, and from such gluts (officially termed ‘over capacity’) the industry is still suffering!

Alternatively, let us be optimistic, and as well as heartily congratulating Messrs. VPK and Klingele on their acquisition and intentions, hope that this is another step in the ‘up-swing’ of the pulp and paper industry as a whole.

“Oh the times, they are a changin'”

January 30, 2013

To abuse the quote of Mr & Mrs Zimmerman’s little boy Robert, things for once are going the other way. Too much reportage these days bemoans the Far East/Asiatic countries for the way they are sucking the Western paper industry into a dry husk.

Now comes the excellent news that shuttered Alizay pulp and paper mill in France has been purchased by Double A of Thailand. Once a thriving integrated mill, Alizay fell-out of favour with owners M-Real, who in 2010 stopped pulp production, taking instead wet-lap 100% recycled pulp from their Kemsley Mill in Sittingbourne. Of course that stalled after Kemsley was sold to DS Smith Paper, who needed all the pulp production there to manufacture their K-Lite container board liner.

The paper production ceased at Alizay in early 2012 and the mill was shut-down completely. It was sold by Metsa Board (the latest incarnation of M-Real)  just a few weeks ago to the Local Authority, lock, stock, and barrel,  – which included the brand name ‘Evolve’ – for 22 million Euro’s.  Conceil General l’Eure have now sold it on to Double A, who intend to re-open the mill and start production of both pulp and paper.

In another turn-about, Double A will import  KHAN-NA* logs from Thailand for virgin fibre grades (including some of their own) , and continue to use locally sourced waste paper for the production of grades such as Evolve.

This is absolutely thrilling news, and this writer hopes it is the start of a trend, though he fears this may be a one-off. Just the same, Double A of Thailand to re-open Alizay….who would have thought it?

*KHAN-NA trees are planted around the rice fields of Thailand rather than in conventional forests. This utilises otherwise unproductive land, and affords some protection to the paddy fields and their all important rice crop.

Lana in trouble (again!)

January 29, 2013

In these turbulent times for the paper industry, with many mills either closing, threatened with closure, or at the very least facing a worrying future, it is especially sad to learn that LANA Papiers Spéciaux SAS of Strasbourg, have again had to call-in the receivers.

Not too long ago the mill and business were taken-over by Hahnemühle of Germany, and things looked good. Hahnemühle later bought the failing Zanders Fine Papers business when M-Real decided they could no longer afford the losses, while Metsa bought the Chromolux part of the action (Metsa being the new image for the former M-Real board sector.)

One has to wonder if this latter purchase was what caused the apparent downfall of Lana. Are we seeing another South Sea Bubble ala Klippan, Inveresk, and others?

These are indeed hard times for the printings and writings sector of the paper industry. Tissue seems to be going from strength to strength (no pun intended) and board mills (for corrugated cases) likewise, but what would be viewed as the more beautiful papers are going to the wall thick and fast.

Even Newsprint is hitting trouble, but that is directly attributable to the decline in the sale of hard-copy newspapers and the growth of the same titles as ‘on-line’ versions. Even Aylesford Newsprint couldn’t keep up with the declining market, and both Mondi and SCA (both former joint owners) sold off the loss-making business at Aylesford in Kent (U.K.) to a management company who have a five year plan, which well informed insiders see as the five years it will take them to close the plant, sack the workers, sell-off the machinery to China or the scrap merchants, and sell the site for Real Estate.

As I quipped dryly to a group of industry friends recently after we had been brain-storming all the closures and prospective closures in the U.K. alone, at least we were around to see the demise of previously prestigious names and manufacturies  Needless to say, my remarks raised not a smile, not even from my own lips!

Mickey Mouse Saves The World!

October 18, 2012

This press release from the Disney Corporation:

BURBANK, CA, Oct. 11, 2012 (Press Release) – Disney today announced a new Paper Sourcing and Use Policy, establishing guidelines for paper used in Disney’s day-to-day business operations as well as its consumer products and packaging. The policy – effective immediately – continues Disney’s commitment to responsible forest practices and conservation, and will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will focus on paper sourced directly by Disney or on behalf of Disney for use in Disney-branded products and packaging, and the second will address paper sourced by the Company’s independent licensees.

The policy aims to:

  • Minimize the consumption of paper
  • Eliminate paper products containing irresponsibly harvested fiber, such as fiber from High Conservation Value Areas
  • Maximize recycled content and fiber sourced from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forestry operations

Disney will work with non-governmental organizations to identify and prioritize regions with poor forest management and high rates of deforestation. The Company will report its implementation progress on an annual basis.

“The paper policy is an example of how Disney conducts business in an environmentally and socially responsible way, and demonstrates the Company’s commitment to creating a lasting, positive impact on ecosystems and communities worldwide,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Disney Corporate Citizenship, Environment and Conservation.

Disney sought input from stakeholders throughout the supply chain and from the environmental community in the formulation of its paper policy. Disney will continue to solicit ongoing feedback as the policy is implemented.

“We commend Disney for adding its significant voice to the growing chorus of companies demonstrating that there’s no need to sacrifice endangered forests or animals for the paper we use every day. This policy will have a particularly important impact in Indonesia, the primary place where rainforests are still being cut down for pulp and paper,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, which worked with Disney on the policy.

The new policy continues Disney’s legacy of supporting forest and nature conservation. Over the last two decades, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has invested in conservation programs in 112 countries, including more than 70 projects in Indonesia to protect the Sumatran rainforest and work with villages to effectively manage critical forest habitats. Since 2009, Disney has also invested more than $27 million in forest carbon projects in the United States, Peru, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, and China.

“The world’s forests are facing multiple pressures. Disney’s actions to better understand its paper usage and supply chain send a positive signal that the company recognizes the seriousness of this issue,” said Ruth Nogueron, associate, World Resources Institute. “This is a welcome step that reflects Disney’s commitment to support responsible forest management.”


What this means is that they have ‘black-balled’ papers that have been sourced from forest conservation black-spots, such as Indonesia! Look out APP and APRIL, there’s now a glimmer of hope that your bulldozers are going to be stuck in their destructive tracks. Of course, Disney (and others including Staples, Random House and McMillan publishers) cannot actually put feet on the ground and stop logging, nor yet prevent the rape of the rainforest for palm oil plantations, that’s down to you and me boycotting supermarket products that contain Palm Oil – not an easy task, but it’s one giant leap in the right direction.

Last week, Lynn Whitnall, Trustee of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, had to admit that while they are enjoying success with their breeding programme with Sumatran Tigers, there is no hope of being able to establish a reintroduction programme because there is insufficient untouched environment to support such a scheme. The same would undoubtedly be true for many captive breeding programmes around the World for indigenous species from Indonesia and the Malay archipelago, but little by little steps are being taken. Well done Disney!

And there then were ……..

September 24, 2012

The recent decision by Sequanna to further reduce it’s output of papers by closing several ArjoWiggins mills (Ivybridge in U.K.; Dalum Papir (original home of Cyclus 100% recycled graphical paper); Witcel in Argentina, strikes a blow in many quarters. Add to this the closure of one of Chartham Paper’s two machines just last month (August 2012), not least the 430 employees concerned.

The Chartham machine shut is a done deal, Dalum and Witcel will go by the end of the year, and Ivybridge gets to stay afloat until the beginning of 2014.

In all, 126,000 tonnes of paper production will be eliminated, of which 103kT from Dalum alone. When Dalum closes, that will be the end of what was De Forenede Papirfabbriker, the Danish conglomerate, and virtually the end of papermaking in Denmark. Silkeborg, unwanted by Stora when they took-over and could not see the commercial potential, returned to its German Drewsen owners, who closed the historic mill in 2000 and moved production back to Lachendorf in Germany.

This writer hopes that these recently announced closures will be enough to appease the shareholders of Sequanna for a sound return on their Arjo investments, there’s not much left to go before what was Wiggins Teape as papermakers, one of the largest paper-making groups in the U.K. join the ranks of Bowater and Inveresk in becoming just a holding company for trading titles, with no mills at all. 

We’ve seen it all before, but you read about it here first “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on”