USA AND CANADA
K-C’s Everett mill to close by March after deal falls through
Kimberly-Clark (K-C) is to close down its Everett, WA, pulp and tissue paper mill after talks broke off with a potential buyer.
Some 160,000 tpy of pulp is produced at the mill and it operates nearly 201,000 tpy of tissue paper capacity on five machines.
On the tissue making operation, one-third is for AfH paper products with the remaining for retail tissue, towels, and napkins. It runs a TAD PM at the mill.
The 700-750 staff are expected to have lost their jobs by the end of March, according to reports.
The company had been in the process of seeking to secure a sale since January 2011 and had worked closely with potential buyers through Atlas Holdings.
A spokesman for K-C told TW that due to a confidentiality agreement with Atlas, he was unable to comment on the specifics of the negotiations.
However, he said: “There were complex environmental issues related to a waterway near the mill property that arose late in the negotiations and that were not able to be resolved.”
Dave Faddis, vice president product supply for K-C, said: “We are disappointed that we couldn’t reach a sales agreement.
“We have worked diligently for nearly a year to find a buyer for the Everett Mill but, unfortunately, we were unable to do so.
“Our focus now is on completing the timely and efficient closure of the mill and doing what we can to help our Everett employees with this difficult transition.”
Trio of green certifications for Little Rapids
Healthcare products manufacturer Little Rapids Corporation has boosted its environmental credentials after it become FSC, SFI and PEFC certified.
The American-based company said it obtained the standards in direct response to customer demand for environmentally friendly products.
Mark Bosin, director of quality and sustainability, told TW that the certification process was fairly extensive.
He added that the initial costs to establish the proper procedures required a moderate investment, including using a consultant familiar with the requirements for these certifications and the investment of the company’s employees’ time in putting the correct structure in place. “The ongoing costs to maintain the certifications are more nominal,” he said.
As to whether certified products are more expensive for the consumer, Bosin said: “It is hard to pinpoint specific cost differences between certified and non-certified products, and we would work with any customers to determine pricing based on their particular project.
“Today, there is an inherently higher cost structure for certified products because certified raw materials cost more for us to purchase, and there are increased process costs associated with tracking the product from papermaking through converting.”
However, he added that certified products “certainly offer a benefit” to companies that want to clearly communicate their commitment to protecting the environment.
“As demand for these products increases and supply becomes more readily accessible, the cost would likely change as well,” he said. Little Rapids manufactures products for the healthcare, beauty and specialty paper markets.
The company’s core product lines serve the medical and beauty market segments under the Graham Professional brand, and the specialty paper market under the Shawano Specialty Papers and Larson Converting brands. It has its headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Green Bay, and also a paper manufacturing facility in Shawano, Wisconsin.
K-C adds 4% on price but drops 6% on volume in 3Q
Both Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Kimberly- Clark (K-C) reported higher pricing by 4% and lower volume by 6% in their tissue product segments.
P&G, for its baby and family care unit, reported on 27 October that second quarter prebuying factored into the volume decrease. The unit’s 4% price rise was for global business. Consumer and AfH price increases, the first in several years, were launched in June and July in North America.
K-C chief finance officer Mark Buthman attributed the volume drop to “sheet count reductions, our focus on revenue realisation, and strong promotion support for Cottonelle bath tissue in the third quarter last year,” based on a Seeking Alpha transcript of the firm’s earnings call with analysts.
Buthman said consumer tissue operating margins “improved to 12%, our best performance in two years that was driven by sales growth, cost savings, and lower betweenthe- line spending”.
K-C also reported improved paper towel sales and expected to increase promotional spending in tissue products in the fourth quarter. K-C Professional increased volumes 3% and gained 2% on higher net selling prices. The unit’s volume in Europe rose by mid- to high-single digits, and volume in North America was flat “as high unemployment and office vacancy levels continue to impact market demand,” Buthman said.
Thomas Falk, K-C chairman and chief executive, said: “Well, I think we’re executing better (on paper towels). We’ve got some of our distribution back, and both Viva and Scott towels had decent volume growth there.
“So I think we’re overall happy with the progress we’re seeing, and bouncing back from what were kind of historic low share periods for us.”
Falk said sheet reductions vary: “Some places it’s moved up, some places it hasn’t. … We’re probably watching more competitive promotion pricing across multiple outlets and it’s a little choppy right now. … So that’s probably the biggest thing we’re watching in the marketplace right now.”
“I think in some cases the de-sheeting was a little bigger than maybe we’ve done in prior years, big in part because of some of the commodity cost run-up,” Falk said. “But I think we’ve got most of the price in the marketplace as we speak on consumer tissue. (There) may be a little bit more that comes internationally, but there’s not going to be any more plans at this point in time in North America.” News from RISI (www.risiinfo.com)
3rd North American ATMOS apparently on order, likely for US mill
In roughly another year, three Voith ATMOS machines should be operating in North America, focused on making premium and ultra tissue paper products largely from recovered paper to compete at the highest quality levels in the marketplace.
Two contacts said a third ATMOS tissue paper machine module system was ordered by a North American company – most likely SCA Tissue for an upgrade by the company on its 70,000 tpy PM3 at the large Menasha, WI, AFH mill. Several SCA officials wouldn’t comment.
By the end of 2013, there could be almost 200,000 tpy of ATMOS technology tissue paper or 2% of the 9m tpy North American market. The first ATMOS system in the world was installed at the end of 2007 on TM 2 at CMPC’s Talagante tissue paper mill outside Santiago, Chile. Voith’s Rogerio Berardi said ATMOS sells well in North America because it produces “similar or even better paper quality than with TAD (through-air-dried) but with 60% less energy consumption,” and lower chemical and fabric costs.
He said the ATMOS system “allows customers to produce premium tissue, which in the past was possible only with expensive and high production cost TAD machines.”
“All producers that always dreamed about premium tissue but could not afford and did not want TAD due to the high costs and environment issues are now interested in ATMOS,” Berardi told PPI Pulp & Paper Week this week. He said Voith also sold an ATMOS this year to a “big player” in Europe.
With ATMOS in North America, Latin America, and Europe, Berardi said the Voith system “will take awhile still due to the market characteristics” before starting one up in China and Asia.
Uptick in share competition:
In the USA, the tissue market competition for share, location for efficient logistics, and more premium/ultra quality products, as well as an ongoing battle between brand vs private label has heated up in the last few years.
For recycled content tissue paper producers, the ATMOS is sold as a lower cost and lower energy user with a smaller carbon footprint than TAD machines, which in North America are mainly run by Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Kimberly-Clark (K-C), and are noted for their high-quality output as well as high cost. P&G started up another TAD at its new tissue complex in Utah at the end of last year, and now runs almost half the 37 TADs in the USA.
For removing water during the production of tissue paper, TADs run hot air drying while ATMOS runs a vacuum roll with airflow. In the first quarter, Cascades started up the first ATMOS system in North America on its 50,000 tpy PM2 at the Candiac, QC, mill as part of about a $30m project. PM2 makes paper mainly for consumer tissue products, but can also produce some for AfH.
In launching the ATMOS production, Cascades Tissue Group president and chief executive Suzanne Blanchet raved that the output from the recycled-content PM would be equivalent to TAD quality and was “soft and bulky like Charmin,” one of more than $1 billion/yr tissue product brands made by P&G. Another ATMOS system is set for Wausau Paper’s planned $220m project to build a tissue paper PM at its tissue converting plant in Harrodsburg, KY. The new 75,000 tpy PM is to be making premium paper from 100% recovered paper in first quarter 2013. Wausau ordered its ATMOS last spring.
Wausau expects premium push-up. In investor calls the last few months, Wausau Paper said the ATMOS technology is “superior to TAD on cost,” provides “higher bulk with reduced fibre,” and will help the firm produce more value-added, premium products.
Also, Wausau Paper will also redefine its branding of its Dubl-Nature as well as DublSoftR premium, which it said would be the first ultrapremium 100% recycled-content Green Sealcertified product.
All Wausau Paper tissue products are sold to distributors that sell through to mainly “class A property management” buildings and schools. The anticipated higher-quality output at Harrodsburg would come online as Wausau Paper continues growing its value-added tissue business. Wausau said 49% of its 2010 tissue segment shipments were in value-added products, up from a 36% share in 2006.
All the new PM’s paper will be run on Harrodsburg’s converting lines, the company said.
The plant now operates 27 converting lines at 22.3m cases/yr (11 folded towel lines at 7.0m cases/yr ; seven hard wound towel lines at 7.1m cases/yr; and nine tissue lines at 8.2m cases). With the new PM, Wausau Paper will relocate three Harrodsburg lines, and, also, nine lines at the plant require parent roll backstand modifications for a 118-in parent roll diameter and two require casepacker modifications, the company said.
News from RISI (www.risiinfo.com)
Cascades Tissue Group launches “first of its kind” product
Towel and tissue paper producer Cascades Tissue Group has launched its Elite Tade hardwound roll towels product.
The company said it is the first-of-its-kind now available to the AfH market.
It is made on the company’s newly installed Atmos machine. Originally developed by Voith Paper’s Tissue Process Technology Center in Brazil, Cascades said that the “TAD equivalent” (TADe) process produces a soft feeling, strong and absorbent paper that requires fewer sheets. The company claimed that the Voith Atmos can work with 100% recycled fibre and less chemical products, which it said make for a unique way to manufacture premium toweling paper with a lower environmental footprint.
Suzanne Blanchet, president and chief executive officer of Cascades Tissue Group, said: “Since its foundation, and well before it became a buzzword, Cascades believed in sustainable development.
“That is why we have invested in a new TAD-equivalent technology, which enables us to produce premium products, while being even more mindful of the environment.”
The Tade Cascades Elite hand towels complement the Cascades Tandem series of hand towel dispensers.
Cascades produces, converts and markets packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibre. It employs 11,000 staff across 100 units in North America and Europe.
CMPC Tissue to install Metso line in Chile
CMPC Tissue is to install a complete Metsosupplied tissue production line at its Talagante mill in Chile.
The line was acquired for an undisclosed sum, although Metso said similar production lines are usually valued at €20-30m.
It will produce high-quality facial, toilet and towel grades and is expected to come online during 2013.
Metso will deliver a complete line with stock preparation equipment, including a headbox, a Yankee cylinder, a hood, a dust management system and a reel.
The delivery will also contain an extensive automation package including a process automation system for machine, process and drive controls as well as a quality control system. CMPC Tissue is part of pulp and paper group Empresas CMPC, and supplies tissue products in Latin America.
CMPC Tissue was unavailable to comment further at this time.