Stora Enso has partnered with Switzerland-based Tetra Pak to invest a combined 29 million euros (AUD 41 million) into a new recycling line for post-consumer beverage cartons.
As reported by Packaging-Getaway, Stora Enso has invested $17 million euros (AUD $27.7 million) in the new repulping line to recover the carbon fibres, and Tetra Pak, who along with Plastigram, has invested a total of 12 million euros (AUD $13.3 million) to build the new line.
The new line will use technology developed by Plastigram Industries to process used beverage cartons into paper recycling.
Typically used beverage cartons are recycled in paper mills, which only recover the paper component. The remaining polyethylene and aluminum, often referred to as “polyal”, are usually incinerated or landfilled.
Under the new initiative, the “polyal” will be upcycled into new products.
According to a Stora Enso statement overnight, the line has the potential to triple the annual recycling capacity of beverage cartons in Poland from 25,000 metric tons per year to 75,000 metric tons per year.
The new line also provides scope to absorb the entire volume of beverage cartons sold in Poland as well as additional volumes from neighbouring countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
The news comes in the aftermath of Stora Enso’s company-wide restructuring
It comes as Stora Enso announced a company-wide restructuring last week that will result in short-term pain but will lead to improved ‘profitability and competitiveness’ in the long term.
The restructures will lead to the reduction of 1,150 employees across Store Enso’s global workforce including the packaging division.
As a consequence of the overcapacity in the European containerboard market, Stora Enso is planning to permanently close down production lines at its De Hoop site in the Netherlands and one of its four production lines at its Ostrołęka site in Poland.
The De Hoop site, part of the De Jong Packaging acquisition in 2023, employs 185 people and has a total annual capacity of 380,000 tonnes of containerboard, honeycomb, and plasterboard.
The production line in Ostrołęka has an annual capacity of 120,000 tonnes of recycled containerboard and the negotiations impact 50 people.
The action will also lead to the closure of the Suinila pulp mill in Finland and the Näpi mill in Estonia.
According to Stora Enso, the Finnish mill has been impacted by the Russian-Ukrainan war and the increased competition for pulp wood in European markets. The site has an annual capacity of 375,000 tonnes of long-fibre pulp and employs approximately 270 people.
The planned closure would take place during the second half of 2023 and affect an estimated 250 employees, decreasing Stora Enso’s annual market pulp capacity by 13%.
The Näpi sawmill has an annual capacity of 50,000 m3 of sawn timber, 180,000 m3 of further processed wood products and 25,000 tonnes of pellets. The planned closure would take place during the fourth quarter of 2023 and directly impact 100 employees in Estonia.
Enso’s president and CEO Annica Bresky said: “These measures are of course very difficult and would not be proposed unless it was absolutely necessary for our long-term competitiveness.
“We are at a critical juncture in our strategy advancement, and to further our market position an increased focus on capital allocation and decentralised empowerment is needed. This sadly means that assets suffering from challenged profitability would need to be closed, in combination with a more streamlined headquarter organisation.
Carton investment supports EU Packaging and Waste Regulation
Featuring an annual capacity of 50,000 metric tons, the line at Stora Enso’s production unit in Ostrołęka, Poland, handles beverage carton material separation, detaching fibres from polymers and aluminium.
The fibers are then recycled into carton board materials.
According to Stora Enso, the investment signals that the beverage carton industry wants to support the circularity goals under the proposed EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation.
In November 2022, the European Commission released a proposed revision of the EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste, with the aim of stopping the dramatic increase of packaging waste generation and increasing the proportion of finite resources recirculated back into our economy.
- An updated briefing from March 2023 can be found here.
The European Commission’s proposed revision introduced measures and targets to increase the reduction, recycling and reuse of packaging.
The packaging industry has already invested about 200 million euros to increase the capacity for beverage carton recycling in the European Union and plans to invest an additional 120 million euros by 2027.
“For decades, we have been working to enhance beverage carton recycling capacity, co-investing with recyclers, technology providers and suppliers in new equipment and facilities,” says Lars Holmquist, executive vice president of sustainability and communications at Tetra Pak.
“In 2022, Tetra Pak contributed nearly 30 million euros to collection and recycling projects worldwide, with plans to go further and invest up to 40 million euros annually over the next years. “
“As part of the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, we support the industry’s ambition to increase the collection for a recycling rate of beverage cartons to 90 percent and the recycling rate to 70 percent in the EU by 2030.”
“I am very pleased to see that our collaboration with Stora Enso translates into one of the largest recycling hubs for beverage cartons in Europe, contributing to this ambition. This is also an excellent example of how systemic and collective actions can help keep quality renewable materials, like paper fibers, in the loop.”