Jan.2021, Rumford ME – ND Paper has significantly upgraded its Rumford Division to further expand into packaging grades, and away from bleached printing and writing (P&W) grades. The upgrades are a response to the substantial long-trending changes in product demand, which have accelerated this year, and will likely put the mill in a position of long-term viability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted demand for P&W papers. Rumford’s primary products (until now), coated woodfree and coated mechanical paper grades, are expected to show 2020/2019 declines of 23.5% and 30.3% – approximately 1.4 million tons.
Rumford has operated three paper production lines (R10, R12, R15), kraft and mechanical pulping assets, and a pulp dryer (R9). The upgraded plant retains most of the same assets, with a change in the pulp production. Approximately 120 jobs have been eliminated due to the decrease in demand.
Major upgrades include:
- Commissioning of a ~1000 metric-tons per day unbleached recycled pulp line to provide feedstock flexibility to the R12 and R15 paper machines
- Continued operation of the R9 pulp dryer, including expansion into unbleached softwood kraft market pulp
- Elimination of mechanical pulping operations and R15 coating and supercalender assets
- Conversion of the R15 from P&W papers into kraft linerboard products
- Expansion of R12 to produce unbleached recycled bag and converting papers, in addition to its current offering of bleached and unbleached papers
The newly rebuilt R10 will continue producing P&W and Specialty products, and add P&W products displaced from the R15 for existing customers. The R12 machine, with both bleached and unbleached capability, will manufacture print grades, as well as recycled and kraft papers.