Stora Enso considers containerboard conversion process
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Stora Enso considers containerboard conversion process

Paper producer is conducting feasibility of newsprint-to-containerboard-line conversion in Belgium.

Finland-based Stora Enso says it has started a feasibility study concerning a paper machine conversion at its mill in Langerbrugge, Belgium. The study will focus on the conversion of the site’s newsprint paper line into what Stora Enso calls a high-volume recycled containerboard line.

Such a conversion may align with what Stora Enso calls its strategic focus on renewable materials, and “the investment would support the growth opportunity created by the increasing demand for recycled packaging board,” the firm says.

Currently, Stora Enso’s Langerbrugge site has two paper lines in production, one for newsprint and one for supercalendared (SC) magazine paper. The proposed conversion would enable Stora Enso to further grow its recycled and recyclable packaging materials capacity and to meet the growing demand in end-use segments such as industrials, e-commerce, furniture and electronics, according to the firm.

The feasibility study is expected to be finalized in the first half of 2023. Depending on an investment decision, the converted line is expected to be in production in 2025. The annual capacity would be 700,000 metric tons of testliner and recycled-content fluting grades and would generate annual sales of approximately 350 million euros ($373 million) when run at full capacity, says Stora Enso. The conversion may cost about 400 million euros ($426 million).

“Today we produce recycled containerboard in Poland, mainly for the Eastern European market,” says Hannu Kasurinen, an executive vice president with Stora Enso. “A conversion in Langerbrugge would establish a competitive position for us in Western Europe as well. In addition to sourcing materials for recycled containerboard, the study will also assess the handling of different incoming recycling streams, including laminated grades. Having successfully completed conversions at other sites, we would be able to leverage important learnings from those projects.”

Stora Enso announced in March this year it was initiating a sales process for possible divestment of four of its five paper production sites. The Langerbrugge site has been excluded from this process and will be retained within the group, states the company. The future of the Langerbrugge site’s SC paper line will be evaluated if a decision is made regarding the conversion of the newsprint paper line.

“If an investment decision is made, the Langerbrugge site will continue to serve our paper customers as usual until at least the end of 2024,” says Kati ter Horst, another Stora Enso executive vice president. “The central location, experienced personnel and good access to recycled fiber remain core strengths of the site.”