Norway to build "breakthrough" recycling plant

First Norwegian paper recycling operation for two decades gets strong government backing

Norway's first de-inking paper recycling facility for two decades is to begin construction later this year at Skogn, near the west-coast city of Trondheim, on the site of a paper mill owned by Norske Skog, Europe's third-largest newsprint producer.

Despite national enthusiasm for collecting waste paper - about 490,000 tonnes last year, or 53% of the total discarded - Norwegians have been unable to process it domestically for the manufacture of newsprint since a pioneering de-inking/recycling plant closed down after a short and unprofitable life during the 1970s.

Environment Minister Guro Fjellanger has hailed the decision to build the new plant at a cost of NKr500m (Ecu61m) as "an important breakthrough". "It is vital that most people have confidence that the 'return' system is working, and that the collection of waste paper will yield environmental benefits," he told the national news agency, NTB. "The plant...will guarantee an environmentally sound use of collected paper."

Norske Skog predicts an annual capacity of 170,000 tonnes for the plant - producing enough recycled fibres to replace over 300,000 tonnes of spruce timber currently imported from Russia. "This is not a separate unit - it will be integrated with the mill", Rolf Løvstrøm of Norske Skog told ENDS Daily yesterday.

Notwithstanding its abundance of trees, Mr Løvstrøm added, without recycling Norway could not supply enough raw materials for Norske Skog, partly because of environmental restrictions but mainly because so much of the country was too rugged for efficient logging.

According to an as-yet-unpublished background document prepared by Norske Skog and the State Pollution Control Authority (SFT), of last year's 930,000 tonnes of discarded paper, 374,000 tonnes were printed matter, 335,000 tonnes packaging, and the rest unrecoverable (toilet paper, wallpaper, etc.). About 20,000 tonnes were burned for industrial heating, and virtually all of the rest was recycled, either in Norway (mainly for packaging) or after sale as raw material for newsprint abroad.

Norske Skog's new plant is expected to be operational by the turn of the century. With the expansion of its existing de-inking plant at the French town of Golbey, the company says it will be the second largest European consumer of paper for recycling as newsprint after the German Haindl, with a total recycling capacity of 850,000 tonnes per year.

Follow Up:
Norske Skog, tel: +47 67 59 90 00.

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