IP to Produce Fluff Pulp at Shuttered Franklin, Va. Mill
A portion of IP's Franklin, Virginia mill will be repurposed to produce fluff pulp. Photo credit: Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.
May 17, 2011 - International Paper today announced plans to repurpose a portion of its closed Franklin, Virginia, [USA] Mill as a fluff pulp mill capable of annually producing up to 270,000 metric tons of high quality fluff pulp for the global market.
With an investment of $83 million, repurposing the Franklin Mill for the production of fluff pulp will create approximately 200 jobs.
"IP is currently the third largest global supplier of fluff pulp and this investment gives us greater participation in a growing market," said Mark Sutton, International Paper Senior Vice-President Printing and Communications Papers the Americas.
"IP is a leader in the use of renewable energy. The Franklin fluff pulp facility will be 89% energy self-sufficient, utilizing power generated from carbon-neutral biomass on-site. The capability of producing energy from renewable biomass resources makes the remaining portions of the Franklin Mill site an ideal location for other partners looking for on-site green energy options."
IP continues to actively evaluate additional repurposing options for the Franklin site with third party partners. International Paper's decision to permanently shut down the Franklin Mill for uncoated freesheet (UFS) production remains unchanged.
A number of factors influenced IP's decision to locate a fluff pulp mill in Franklin, including: a skilled local workforce; the condition of the mill's current assets; a wide range of transportation options; and the availability of US southern pine in the region. The unique fiber length and absorption properties of this species makes it ideal for producing high quality fluff pulp.
"With roughly ninety percent of the world's fluff pulp made from US southern pine, this is a great opportunity to use a distinctively American material to produce a globally competitive product," Sutton commented.
Fluff pulp is used in a variety of absorbent products (baby diapers, adult incontinence products, feminine hygiene products, etc.) and in airlaid products such as cleaning and baby wipes.
Repurposing of the Franklin Mill for the production of fluff pulp will begin immediately, with start-up targeted for mid-year 2012.
Prior to its closure in 2010, the Franklin mill employed 1,100 people and had the capacity to produce 600,000 tpy of uncoated freesheet on three machines, and 140,000 tpy of coated paperboard on one machine.
SOURCE: International Paper