Emery Deabay, a paper mill worker for four decades, sees the dismantled pieces of the old Verso mill in Bucksport leaving town by train day after day and knows the trains are taking what's left of the state's fading paper industry with it. The state's once-thriving paper mill industry, like American papermaking at large, continued its downturn in 2015 in the face of closures, digitization, foreign competition and consolidation. Remaining players in the industry, which has declined from 426 mills nationally in 2005 to 326 today, say adaptation to changing consumer trends is needed for survival. Deabay, who works in the still-operational power plant of the former mill, said it's too late for the old Bucksport mill to adapt, but hopefully something will fill its massive footprint.
A further chunk of LWC paper capacity is set to disappear from the European market after Burgo announced plans to convert one of its paper machines to container board.
The Italy-headquartered papermaker has confirmed that it will reconfigure the PM9 paper machine at its Verzuolo mill from the production of coated mechanical papers to container board.
The move has been greeted with surprise in the paper trade because PM9 is the second-newest LWC machine in Europe. The 9.6m-wide machine went into production in 2002 with a capacity of 400,000 tonnes per annum.
One paper merchanting source commented: “To have one of the most modern magazine paper machines in the market being taken out when that market is so tight is significant. It’s caused a big reaction because this is not a lesser machine that’s being converted to packaging.”
Burgo said that production of container board on PM9 is scheduled to begin in Q4 2019, with the converted machine having an annual capacity of 600,000tpa.
In a statement, the company said: “Approximately three months after the start-up of Avezzano mill, Burgo Group is keeping the focus on containerboard (RCCM) and continues its diversification strategy, ranging from publishing to packaging, from printing paper to paper for corrugators.”