Verso completes linerboard conversion project in Maine

Paper producer has converted former graphic paper machine to linerboard output.

September 5, 2018

Miamisburg, Ohio-based Verso Corp. has restarted the No. 3 paper machine at its mill in Jay, Maine, after converting it from coated printing and writing paper output to kraft linerboard.

In comments accompanying its second quarter of 2018 financial results, Verso CEO Chris DiSantis refers to “low-cost conversion strategies, including the on-schedule restart of the No. 3 paper machine at the Androscoggin Mill [in Jay, Maine].”

An analysis by Boston-based forest products information company RISI pegs the Verso conversion as costing just $19 million, a fraction of the cost of some other North American mill conversion projects, which have ranged from $30 million to more than $300 million to undertake.

The No. 3 paper machine is expected to produce about 200,000 tons per year of linerboard, according to DiSantis.

In Verso’s second quarter conference call, as reported by RISI, DiSantis said the lower cost was attributable to “an excellent machine that had a very good backend [system].” He added, “From a technical standpoint, making graphic paper products is technically more difficult than making linerboard.”

When in February 2018 the company announced its plans to convert the No. 3 machine, DiSantis commented, “Verso identified this upgrade and restart of the No. 3 paper machine and associated equipment at the Androscoggin Mill as part of our continuing development of a holistic strategy that includes repositioning of certain assets.”

Verso has largely relied on wood and wood pulp in heavily forested Maine in terms of its fiber supply. On its website, the company states, “Verso’s own carbon life cycle assessments found that using post-consumer recovered fiber in our products could actually result in a larger carbon footprint, leading us to the conclusion that recycled content use is not always a valuable sustainability performance metric for the paper grades we manufacture. We continue to offer recycled content upon request in most of the grades we manufacture.”