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2 minute read - 3rd August 2022

Essity plans major paper recycling plant investment

One of Northumberland’s biggest manufacturing employers has unveiled plans for a paper recycling plant that will further reduce its dependence on virgin wood fibre to make products such as toilet rolls.

Essity Prudhoe Mill hopes to replace a 50-year-old recycling plant with a new building housing the latest in recycling technology, reducing energy costs and increasing the company’s ability to make new products from recycled fibre.

A planning application for the multi-million pound investment has been submitted to Northumberland County Council – with a decision expected in the next couple of months.

If approved, it will enable Essity to recycle new sources of lower-grade material – such as cardboard packaging used for the delivery of online shopping items – and protect the company from having to use greater amounts of more-expensive virgin fibre in the future.

Essity has unveiled plans to make a multi-million pound paper recycling plant investment – a planning decision is expected in the coming months / Picture: Essity

The old building is deemed no longer fit for purpose and will be demolished when the new building, just to the north of the site, is in place – once planning permission is granted.  The area will be levelled, after production has moved to the new facility, and used for storage of the finished product.

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Paul Oliver, Essity’s programme manager, said: “The old Unifibres building has served us well – but both it and some of the equipment it houses have reached the end of their working lives. Essity is committed to a more sustainable future, and using recycled paper in our toilet rolls and paper towels has always been central to that.  A high proportion of recycled paper in our products is also popular with our supermarket customers and environmentally-aware shoppers.

“In the past, most of our recycled pulp was made from office wastepaper – but availability went down as companies moved away from printers and photocopiers in favour of email and PDFs – and the post-Covid working from home trend has accelerated that. Growing our recycled fibre capability is vital to the long-term future of the business. The proposed new building and advanced production equipment will reduce our energy requirements, improve the working conditions for our staff and represents another significant investment in Prudhoe Mill. This exciting project will also enhance long-term job prospects as well as training and development opportunities for employees and our apprentices.”

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