Finland-based Valmet Oy says it will supply technology for U.K. mill to convert OCC into containerboard.
Finland-based Valmet Oy says it will supply old corrugated container (OCC) stock preparation and containerboard production lines with ”a large scope of automation systems, industrial Internet solutions and services” to Eren Paper’s Shotton Mill Ltd. in the United Kingdom.
The new containerboard-making line (PM3) will produce what the companies call high-quality test liner and fluting grades, and the line will use 100-percent-recycled paper as feedstock. The startup of PM3 is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024.
Valmet staetes, “A project of this size and scope is typically valued at around 150 million euros to 170 million euros ($159 million to $180 million).”
“Shotton’s new containerboard machine will make our paper mill the largest and most technologically advanced paper mill in the U.K.,” says Hamdullah Eren, board chairman of Eren Paper/Modern Karton. “We chose a board-making line with high performance, high speed and higher production rates.”
Mika Ollikainen, a vice president with Valmet, says, “Our technical highlights together with the speed and production potential of the containerboard machine were definitely the decisive factors to Eren Paper. Valmet’s OptiAir impingement dryer will give substantially higher runnability, and hard nip sizer will increase the strength properties of the produced board. All these arguments were supported by the results from the references we presented to Eren Paper. Additionally, the OCC line will be the largest one delivered by Valmet.”
Valmet says equipment delivered will include a new OCC line with reject handling, stock preparation, an approach flow system and a high-speed containerboard machine. The OCC line includes “the latest technology for extreme cleanliness and strength,” according to the firm.
Established in 1969, Eren Holding is a family-run conglomerate headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey. It has business interests in paper, packaging, cement, energy, retail and port operations. Modern Karton, the paper manufacturing subsidiary, produces paper and packaging while using 100 percent recycled fibers. Within its paper factory in Turkey, 1.2 million metric tons of paper are produced annually, making it the largest paper manufacturer in Turkey and one of the top 10 paper companies in Europe, according to Eren and Valmet.
Collaborative mechanical recycling effort designed to support “a circular economy for flexible packaging and films in the Upper Midwest.”
The organizers of a St. Paul, Minnesota-based coalition called MBOLD are calling it a groundbreaking partnership designed to catalyze a regional circular economy for flexible films and packaging materials in the Upper Midwest.
MBOLD members include multinational brands including General Mills, Schwan’s Co., Target, Ecolab, Cargill and Land O’Lakes Inc. Also involved are recycling-related organizations Closed Loop Partners and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, the University of Minnesota, plastic film manufacturer Charter Next Generation and the Minnesota location of Myplas USA Inc., a subsidiary of South Africa-based film recycling company Myplas.
The initiative has been designed to expand film recycling infrastructure and the supply of recycled resin for use in new products, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curtailing waste, the coalition says.
Following investments from MBOLD members and other stakeholders, Myplas USA will establish a flexible film recycling and reprocessing plant in Minnesota. Scheduled to begin operations in the spring of 2023, the 170,000-square-foot mechanical recycling plant will be designed to recycle nearly 45,000 tons of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) packaging and film annually.
“We are excited to collaborate across industries to advance recycling innovation for flexible films used in product packaging and more,” says Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills and MBOLD co-chair. “This initiative reflects General Mills’ commitment to regenerating our planet and shows what’s possible when we work together to find creative solutions to shared challenges.”
MBOLD says the United States consumes some 6 million to 7.5 million tons of flexible packaging and films annually, in the form of food packaging, shopping bags, shrink wrap, pallet wrap, e-commerce mailers, lawn and garden bags and hay bale wrap, among many other products. However, only an estimated five percent of flexible films used in the U.S. are recycled each year, with the rest being landfilled, incinerated or even released into the environment, the group says.
“We are building a regional ecosystem to support circular approaches for flexible film,” says JoAnne Berkenkamp, managing director of MBOLD. “By working together, we are catalyzing a new circular economy that will expand access to film recycling in the Upper Midwest, increase the supply of recycled resin for use in new film products and cut emissions.”
The initiative includes a combined $9.2 million equity investment in Myplas USA by lead investors General Mills, Schwan’s and Wisconsin-based film manufacturer Charter Next Generation and supporting investors Target and Ecolab. Myplas’ new film recycling plant will be located in Rogers, Minnesota, northwest of Minneapolis, and will employ about 300 people.
Schwan CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios says, “Reducing the environmental impact of our packaging is a core commitment for Schwan’s. That’s why we’re part of this joint equity investment in new recycling infrastructure. By returning flexible film to new uses, we can reduce waste and curtail dependence on virgin plastic. It’s good for the environment and our business.”
Compared with virgin plastics, the use of recycled polyethylene (PE) resins offer significant life cycle benefits, including a 65 percent reduction in total energy used, a 59 percent reduction in water consumption and a 71 percent reduction in global warming potential, says MBOLD, citing an Association of Plastic Recyclers study.
“Myplas has a deep passion for plastics recycling, and we’re proud to establish our first U.S. plant and our U.S. headquarters in Minnesota,” says Andrew Pieterse, Myplas USA CEO. “Our partners’ commitment, investment and innovative thinking, paired with Myplas’ technical expertise, will be transformative for the entire region. We can’t wait to get started.”
To help create demand for recycled PE resin, Charter Next Generation will purchase recycled resin from Myplas for use in food, industrial and health care film products. MBOLD members Cargill, General Mills, Schwan’s., Land O’Lakes and the University of Minnesota will evaluate potential product applications using recycled resin with Charter Next Generation. Land O’Lakes, Cargill, Schwan’s Company and the University of Minnesota also will explore opportunities to direct film waste to Myplas USA for recycling once the plant is operational.
Charter Next Generation CEO Kathy Bolhous says, “This collaboration with MBOLD and Myplas USA is forging a new future for packaging innovation. It will broaden our sustainable film portfolio, create an urgently needed solution for the region and help meet the growing demand for recycled content in packaging.”
The Alliance to End Plastic Waste and Closed Loop Partners are each providing multimillion dollar debt financing to Myplas USA to support development of its new Minnesota recycling facility. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development also is supporting Myplas USA through $1 million from the Minnesota Investment Fund and $450,000 from the Minnesota Job Creation Fund.
“This is about protecting our environment and driving innovation,” says Steve Grove. Minnesota’s employment and economic development commissioner. “It’s about bringing a new industry to Minnesota and showing the world how the private and public sectors can come together to solve problems. The state of Minnesota is proud to support this effort, and we’re grateful to the companies that made it happen.”
New Jersey-based company’s collapsible shipping containers can be shipped over the road five at a time.
Montclair, New Jersey-based Staxxon LLC says it is accepting $100 deposits for its foldable shipping containers. The company says the 20-foot and 40-foot containers “fold upright, like an accordion,” allowing “up to five empty containers to be folded, bundled and moved together as a single container.”
Staxxon says it has developed, patented and certified via the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) its new design for shipping containers.
Says the company of its foldable or collapsible product, “The load-bearing strength of the upright design also allows the container to be placed anywhere from top to bottom in a shipboard stack. Whether fully loaded or bundled together when empty, the company anticipates that its containers will be 100 percent interchangeable with standard ISO container fleets.”
Continues the privately held company, “Container owners stand to benefit through substantially reduced operating costs and increased efficiency. Additionally, improved logistics in the handling of empties should materially mitigate global port congestion and environmental pollution.”
Bloomberg and Axios.com media coverage of the company in March quotes Jim Hagemann Snabe of Denmark-based global shipping line A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S as saying foldable containers are the “dream of the shipping industry.”
Staxxon began accepting pre-order deposits last November “on a first-come, first-served basis,” says the firm. It expects to complete those purchases and make its first deliveries of containers “once they become commercially available in 2022.”
Said Staxxon CEO said George Kochanowski in November, “Being able to take deposits for future container deliveries marks another milestone for Staxxon. It allows us to begin planning our commercial manufacturing targets and encourages interested customers to get in line and be the first to purchase containers when we launch.”
Added Kochanowski, “We want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to signal to us that they’re interested in our technology. We hope to build momentum with this refundable deposit and get the industry excited about our container solution. More than ever with today’s shipping chaos, we believe our folding design offers huge advantages for customers moving empty containers.”
Staxxon says other “differentiating technologies” it is developing with outside partners include floor sensors that will allow a container to report the weight of its contents and an automated bundling or folding system targeting a timeframe of less than three minutes per folding or unfolding process.
Efforts to collect and sort paper coffee cups for recycling could boost an already high paper recycling rate in the U.S.
Collection networks for old corrugated containers (OCC), office paper and other packaging and printing and writing grades are well-established in the United States, leading to a 2020 national paper recycling rate of nearly 66 percent, according to the Washington-based American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).
For that rate to rise any higher, the collection of scrap paper used in other applications likely will need to increase, and one stream eyed by recycling advocates and paper producers alike consists of paper coffee and beverage cups.
Americans use some 136 million paper beverage cups per day, according to a 2020 North Carolina State University study. Globally, the annual consumption of paperboard cup stock is expected to reach 6.8 million metric tons by 2025, according to a 2019 study by Finland-based Markham Charta Oy.
A white paper released by Atlanta-based Moore & Associates this January observes, “As consumers and activist groups pressure large chain restaurants and consumer packaged goods brands to make packaging more recyclable, there is growing interest and activity in paper cup recycling.”
The 13-page document presents case studies and examples from paper mills and material recovery facilities (MRFs) on their experiences in handling used cups as a secondary fiber grade.
Bill Moore and Susan Cornish of Moore & Associates tell Recycling Today they are continuing to gather information on collection and sorting methods and mill acceptance of used paper beverage cups.
Cup board as a postindustrial paper grade has long been recyclable, says Joel Litman of Dallas-based Texas Recycling. “Coffee cup manufacturers are already recycling their scrap generation and have been doing so for years,” he comments.
“Because of the [polymer coating] used in the manufacturing of the cups, the end-use markets for the scrap are limited but are constant,” Litman says. “Usually, these are export markets.” He adds, “This grade is kept separate at the generator” manufacturing plant.
The polymer coating used to keep the paperboard liquid-resistant is one reason why cup board has fewer end market destinations compared with many other board grades. “The challenge for mills in using cups and other polycoated paper packaging has always been the time required in the hydro pulper to remove the paper fiber from the poly layer,” states the Moore & Associates report.
Nonetheless, the hunt for fiber by mills and the pressure to be sustainable placed on retailers has led to considerable testing of methods to collect and pulp used cups.
Among the MRF operators the Moore & Associates report cites is Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Millennium Recycling. Contacted in early May by Recycling Today, the company’s Shannon Dwire says cup recycling was a topic of conversation at a joint Recycling Industry of Minnesota (RAM) and Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) industry event she had attended earlier that day.
Dwire says some environmental advocates prefer the “reduce” option for the cups—having them replaced by reusable mugs or cups. She says, though, that because they exist Millennium has made the attempt to recycle them and has met with some success.
Millennium ’s MRF sorting system can handle the cups “just fine,” she comments. Dwire says while some MRFs attempt a positive sort, “In our single-stream system, most fiber goes to mixed paper, and the cups end up there and get marketed back to mills that want to close the loop.”
Because of the two-dimensional versus three-dimensional nature of sorting fiber from plastic and metal containers, Dwire says the odds of the cups entering the fiber stream improve “if they’re kind of crushed.”
Lee Cornell of First Star Recycling in Omaha, Nebraska, reports similar results. “When running on a single-stream line, the cups are likely to be flattened and go with other two-dimensional materials, like paper and cardboard,” he comments.
“If the cups pass through to the container side due to behaving as a three-dimensional material, it will require another sort to harvest them, and it’s unlikely most operations will do that,” he adds. “If they go to the container side, it’s more likely they will be treated as miscellaneous paper. In some operations, unfortunately, this is trash.”
The Millennium Recycling MRF has an optical sorter in place to identify paperboard cartons, so at that stage cups often join the cartons. Thus the optical sort “throws [the cups and cartons] into the mixed paper,” creating “less work for hand sorters.”
Millennium collects cups in household and small business single-stream programs. The company does not closely measure the volume of cups streaming in, “But you see them in there; they’re in the mix,” Dwire says.
Cornell adds, “Collecting recyclable coffee cups from commercial points of generation is possible, as long as the weight justifies pick up.” More often, he says, “This generally means picking up with other materials. Commercial single-stream likely makes sense–collect these cups, bottles, OCC, office paper and various other materials.”
Collecting cups separately at coffee shops or fast food outlets has not met with rapid acceptance, Litman says. “Starbucks had a trial program at a few New York City shops some years ago, but it proved unsuccessful."
Leonard Zeid, a St. Louis-based broker with Midland-Davis, also points to the Starbucks trial when commenting, “I don’t think this is viable collection; they will weigh little and would have to be kept in separate plastic bags, etc., from the trash. I have seen [retailers] throwing away empty dairy (natural high-density polyethylene, or HDPE) plastic jugs because they have no way to store them, [and] those natural dairy jugs at times have been priced higher per pound than [aluminum] UBCs.”
Space constraints and pest control concerns mean “keeping the cup separate from the trash generated at the store, and the volume needed to be viable, are challenging,” says Litman. “Plus, the cups may still contain some amount of liquid.”
Food and beverage residue is unwelcome at traditional paperstock plants, but MRF operators already cope with it as a daily challenge. “Residue, such as sugar or milk or coffee in a single-stream program should not be much of an issue,” Cornell says. “Think about beer, soda and water bottles, which usually have a small amount of residue.”
Dwire says, “Most single-stream items tend to have some kind of residue—think about jam in a jar.” A less welcome contaminant, she says, can be plastic lids, straws or stirrers. “That is not something that’s acceptable,” even at paper mills willing to screen out the poly coatings, she says.
The ability of mills to accept polymer coatings was part of the focus of the Moore & Associates report. The consulting firm identified 31 North American mils that will accept the cups as a fiber source, with many of those doing so only as a limited-volume blend fraction in mixed paper.
Zeid, a past president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Paper Stock Industries (PSI) Chapter, lists boxboard mills, tissue mills and mills with dry lap pulping technology as buyers of used cups. Some of these mills, says Zeid, “already accept poly right-side containers, including ice cream containers.” Like Dwire, he says of some mills, “If the cups (cleaned out) are mixed with office paper, they would accept them.”
Dwire says MRF operators putting cups in its mixed paper blend “have to work closely with the mills you ship to.” Even so, she says, “Some MRFs still are scared to try it,” and adds that some “older mills may not want” any cups because their pulping and screening systems are not configured to remove the polymer material.
Research and funding has gone into producing nonplastic or compostable barrier materials. Companies including Miami-based J&J Green Paper and United Kingdom-based Aquapak Polymers have announced new types of barrier products.
As of mid-2022, it remains uncertain whether such efforts will change the end market potential for used paper beverage cups. The Moore & Associates report says these efforts may soon make a difference. “As the use of alternative barrier coatings to polyethylene begins to expand, cups and other poly-coated packaging will eventually become easier for mills to manage. [The] growth of more easily recyclable coatings and cup materials in Europe suggests there is potential for widespread adoption in the long term.”
Even though, in the meantime, the polymer coatings remain a barrier, both the Moore & Associates study (which can be viewed on this web page) and the AF&PA express optimism about the recyclability of the material.
On a web page devoted to the topic, AF&PA answers the question “Are paper cups recyclable?” with an exclamatory “Yes, paper cups are recyclable!” Citing the Moore & Associates study, AF&PA continues, “There are currently 31 mills across North America recycling paper cups. The fiber from those cups is then used to make tissue, paper, containerboard and paperboard.”
The Moore & Associates report summary and outlook section does not include any exclamation marks. However, it does conclude, “In the last two to three years, significant progress has been made in adding cups to residential recycling programs and identifying end markets at mills. This suggests a significant opportunity to continue the expansion of cup recovery through residential recycling programs.”
The company also provided an outlook for the second quarter of 2022.
Waste Connections Inc., Toronto, has released its results for the first quarter of 2022. The company reports a 17.9 percent increase in revenue and a 17.1 percent increase in net income per share.
“We're extremely pleased with our start to the year, particularly given the challenges of record levels of inflation magnified by geopolitical events, ongoing supply chain disruptions and labor constraints as well as the overhang from COVID-related variant impacts,” Worthing F. Jackman, president and CEO of Waste Connections said during a conference call.
Revenue in the first quarter totaled $1.646 billion, up from $1.396 billion in the first quarter of 2021. Operating income was $273.9 million, which included $4.7 million in acquisition-related costs and $1.9 million in impairments and other operating items. This compares with an operating income of $238.4 million in the first quarter of 2021, including $1.5 million in acquisition-related costs. Net income in the first quarter was $180.3 million, or $.69 per share on a diluted basis of 259.6 million shares. In Q1 2021, the company reported a net income of $160.3 million, or $.61 per share on a diluted basis of 263.2 million shares.
Adjusted net income in the first quarter was $213.4 million or 82 cents per diluted share, versus $185.5 million or 70 cents per diluted share, in Q1 2021. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in Q1 was $502.1 million, compared with $433.2 million in Q1 2021. Adjusted net income, adjusted net income per diluted share and adjusted EBITDA, all non-generally accepted accounting principles measures, primarily exclude impairments and acquisition-related items, as reflected in the detailed reconciliations in the attached tables.
“In the first quarter, we delivered solid waste price plus volume growth totaling 7.6 percent,” Jackman says. “The all-in price of 7.1 percent, including about 80 basis points in fuel and material surcharges, marks our highest reported price and ranges from about 4 percent in our most exclusive market Western region, to between 7.5 percent and 8.5 percent in our competitive markets, up 140 basis points sequentially from Q4. Our Q1 pricing was 60 basis points above our outlook and ramp during the quarter as we continue to address the accelerating inflationary headwinds during the period.”
Despite inflation, the company says it achieved underlying margin expansion in solid waste hauling, transfer and disposal. As a result of this, Mary Whitney, the company’s chief financial officer, said the company is well-positioned to meet or exceed our full-year adjusted free cash flow outlook of $1.15 billion provided in February.
The company says it is on track to meet or exceed its full-year adjusted free cash flow outlook of $1.15 billion. The elevated cadence of solid waste acquisition activity has continued with approximately $175 million in annualized revenue year-to-date.
On environmental and production (E&P) waste activity, Waste Connections reported $40.8 million of E&P waste revenue in the first quarter, up 65 percent year-over-year and up 19 percent sequentially from Q4 on a pickup in activity during the quarter from increased drilling as well as remediation jobs primarily in Western Texas.
Looking forward, the company says revenue in Q2 is estimated to be approximately $1.785 billion. This includes solid waste price plus volume growth of 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent.
“Looking ahead to Q2, we expect another sequential increase in both core price and surcharges with all-in price growth exceeding 8 percent,” Jackman said. “Our pricing strength continues to reflect our purposeful approach to addressing the headwinds of inflation and the resilience of our market model, both of which are hallmarks of our strategy.”
Adjusted EBITDA in Q2 is estimated at 31.2 percent of revenue or about $557 million. This reflects an expected 40 basis point margin dilutive impact from acquisitions completed since the prior-year period, implying margins to be flat year-over-year, excluding such impact.
“We believe we are well-positioned for the remainder of 2022 with record solid waste pricing, underlying volume growth, further growth in environmental and production waste and easing cost comparisons,” Jackman said.