Memphis, Tennessee, USA, 17 May 2011 -- /PRNewswire/ -- International Paper (NYSE: IP) today announced plans to repurpose a portion of its closed mill in Franklin, Virginia, 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 USD 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. IP's decision to permanently shut 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 U.S. 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 90% of the world's fluff pulp made from U.S. southern pine, this is a great opportunity to use a distinctively American material to produce a globally competitive product," Sutton said.
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.
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global paper and packaging company with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia, and North Africa. Its businesses include uncoated papers and industrial and consumer packaging, complemented by xpedx, the company's North American distribution company. Headquartered in Memphis, Tennesssee, the company employs about 59,500 people in more than 24 countries and serves customers worldwide. Net sales in 2010 were more than USD 25 billion. For more information about International Paper, its products, and stewardship efforts, visit www.internationalpaper.com.