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Planned auction of Arjowiggins Bessé mill takes away any hope for a restart

22 May 2020 − 

There had been plans to revive the Bessé-sur-Braye paper mill in France after Arjowiggins filed for insolvency and the site was closed last year. But the projects lack funding.

The outcome looks grim for the plans of various groups who had hoped for a fresh start of the former Arjowiggins mill in Bessé-sur-Braye, France. The mill, which has stood idle since spring 2019, is to be auctioned off along with all the machinery on 28 May.

ACIG (Action Citoyenne pour l'Intérêt Général), a citizens' interest group founded to rescue the mill, reports that a British decommissioning and demolition company has already visited the site. In an effort to avert the ultimate demise of the mill, ACIG wants to petition the Nanterre commercial court to postpone the deadline for submission of projects which could enable the mill to restart and only then auction it off, if necessary.

ACIG feels ignored given that it has been so committed to resume operation of the mill in Bessé-sur-Braye. The citizen group's project proposes resuming production of recycled paper with a capacity of 150,000 tpy, initially employing 35, later 170 persons. However, what the proposal lacks is funding: ACIG reports that it needs money to fund a feasibility study.

French trade union CGT confirmed the project and that an investor had not been found so far. Former employees of the Bessé-sur-Braye mill also have a proposal to revive the mill but that project also lacks funding, a trade union spokesman said. It would need €15-17m as start-up investment. The employee group has developed plans with consulting company Secafi to produce transfer paper and cardstock amongst others at Bessé-sur-Braye. This project does not envisage the continuation of production of recycled paper. Instead, the group has reportedly developed a special barrier paper that is greaseproof, heat and water resistant and could be used, for instance, to replace plastics in disposable cutlery.

Early last year, Arjowiggins had filed for insolvency for the Bessé-sur-Braye mill and other sites in France. 570 persons lost their jobs when the mill was idled. It was bale to produce up to 320,000 tpy of recycled graphic paper, woodfree coated paper as well as laminated paper.

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