Kruger set to produce new specialty papers
After having invested more than $500 million in Quebec since 2015, Kruger Inc. is about to begin producing new specialty papers. The half-billion dollars was to convert existing equipment, purchase new equipment, modernize some facilities, and diversify into new growth products, at the same time protecting more than 1,200 jobs in the Mauricie, Estrie and Lanaudière regions of Quebec.
Announced in September 2017, the diversification project concerns more specifically the Brompton Newsprint Mill and the Wayagamack Coated Paper Mill. It represents investments totalling $107.5 million over three years to develop new markets for both mills and to offset the decrease in demand for traditional products such as newsprint and other publication papers.
The new niches include lightweight packaging products for the food and retail sectors, as well as labelling products. Kruger explains customers in these markets are looking for eco-friendly alternatives to reduce the use of plastic, one feature of the products Kruger Specialty Papers will be offering packaging manufacturers.
Related: Kruger investing $378 million to diversify Quebec mills
As stipulated in the timeline for Phase 1 of the diversification project, Kruger will begin production of new products by the end of July at its Brompton mill and by December at its Wayagamack mill. The first diversification phase will see several products added to Kruger’s current offering, including super-calendered kraft paper (SCK) and coated one side paper (C1S) for the manufacture of lightweight packaging and labelling products, as well as food packaging paper.
In recent years, Kruger implemented what it calls a bold strategy to diversify its Quebec paper mills in response to the rapid decline of the publication papers market. The transformation began with the conversion of the No. 10 Newsprint Machine in Trois-Rivières for the production of 100 percent recycled lightweight and high-strength linerboard. The $250-million project, completed in the spring of 2017, breathed new life into the Trois-Rivières Mill and protected some 270 jobs in the Mauricie Region.
While the Trois-Rivières mill was being transformed, Kruger’s Tissue Products Division (Kruger Products L.P.) completed investments totalling $67 million to add a new paper machine and a new converting line to its Crabtree (Joliette) plant. This project helped to consolidate 640 jobs in the Lanaudière Region.
The Brompton mill, which has exclusively manufactured newsprint to date, will be the first to benefit from the diversification project. The introduction of new products by the end of July will help protect some 200 jobs at the mill, while enabling Kruger to reduce its overall annual newsprint production by 200,000 tonnes at the end of the project.
The Wayagamack mill in Trois-Rivières will maintain its coated paper production, but will start to manufacture new products in December.
Kruger has the advantage of being the only company in North America that has a cellulose filament (CF) plant. CF is an environmentally friendly strengthening agent that makes paper lighter and stronger. This, the company says, will enable Kruger to offer sustainable, high-performance alternatives to products that are currently available on the market for specialty packaging and labelling manufacturers.
As well, Kruger has earned the EcoVadis Silver level rating after its very first assessment by this international organization that assesses corporate social responsibility (CSR). In addition, it and its subsidiaries’ plants and products are certified to internationally recognized standards, such as FSC, SFI, PFOA-Free, UL EcoLogoM, HACCP, ISO 9000, ISO 14000 and ISO 18000.
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