Sappi North America has announced approval for a $418m capital project aimed at converting fine paper machine PM 2 at the US Somerset mill to solid bleached sulphate (SBS) board production.
The capital expenditure is to be phased over three years with major steps taking place in 2024 and 2025, Sappi said. The rebuilt PM 2 is scheduled to come online in early 2025 with a capacity of 470,000 t. Sappi puts the current production capacity of the mill’s PM 2 at 235,000 tpy of woodfree coated paper.
The project is in line with the group’s Thrive25 strategic focus to reduce exposure to declining graphic paper markets and gradually transition its portfolio to packaging and speciality papers, pulp and biomaterials. SBS is used for packaging applications in the consumer electronics, cosmetics, confectionary, and beverage industries. “Foodservice items such as plates, dishes and cups also use SBS as a sustainable alternative to plastic,” the company said.
Sappi Somerset operates three paper machines with a total capacity of 970,000 t. In 2019, Sappi converted the site‘s PM 1 from woodfree coated paper to SBS production. The rebuilt machine has a production capacity of 350,000 t and is expected to be ramped up to full capacity this year.