Established in 1898 in the USA, International Paper (IP) is a global producer of uncoated papers, packaging and paperboards. International Paper commercial director for Coated Paperboard and Recycled Specialities in EMEA Michael Krüger, and the manager of the process and quality control at Kwidzyn mill, Wojciech Jamrozik, talked to Alessandra Lacaita about the company’s operations and about the launch of Alaska Plus in the EMEA market, the improved version of its coated folding boxboard GC2 Alaska.
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The launch of its Alaska Plus folding boxboard product this year was an important step forward for the company, as Mr Krüger explains: “We wanted to improve the quality of our GC2 product in terms of sustainability and better yield so we reduced notably the weight of our GC2 boxboard.” He reveals that the project for the creation of Alaska Plus cost over 60 million US dollars and included the modernization of the PM4 in Kwidzyn mill, the coated paperboard machine used for the production of GC1 and GC2 coated folding boxboard. The GC1 grade Arktika is a folding boxboard coated on both sides, while the GC2 grade Alaska is coated only on the top side.
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Wojciech Jamrozik says: “The data we collected two years ago showed that, within the GC2 board market in Europe and looking specifically at stiffness requirements, there was a possibility to position Alaska in a unique way on the market with a lower basis weight yet keeping all other quality aspects similar.
For the creation of a lighter boxboard it was necessary to understand how to reduce weight and maintain stiffness at the same time. Mr Jamrozik explains: “Stiffness ensures the right runnability on the automatic packaging line. The right stiffness also ensures that the box will not collapse during the transportation or when it is displayed on the shelf, so basically it is essential in order to protect the product inside the box.”
“The result of developing Alaska Plus meets our expectations,” Jamrozik states: “You can see that Alaska Plus in a lower basis weight has achieved the same or almost the same stiffness and a better smoothness compared to the Alaska standard higher basis weight. Alaska Plus has been launched on the market with a basis weight range of 280, 255 and 235gsm and additional basis weights will be introduced to the range during the month of July. ”
Advantages of Alaska Plus
Alaska Plus presents an important cost advantage, as Mr Jamrozik tells us: “The customer saves money. To produce the same amount of boxes, the total weight of the board material needed in square meters will be less and this results in a saving on the total cost of the board. It means that our customer spends less for each box he produces, as he uses less material.”
Alaska Plus performs exactly the same as Alaska, or even better. All other technical parameters were kept similar and only the weight was reduced. The surface characteristics are the same as in Alaska. Alaska Plus has excellent runnability, printability, foldability, glueability and efficiency in packaging production, as well as a very high quality consistency. But with a notably lower weight.
Mr Krüger concludes: “Weight reduction means less material utilised; less utilisation of resources means lower impact on the environment.” Furthermore, the environmental benefits exist throughout the product’s life cycle: packaging is lighter to transport, there is less packaging waste and so on.
Arktika GC1 board is used mainly in media packaging, high-end cosmetics, beauty packaging and chocolate packaging as well as graphical printing, whilst Alaska and Alaska Plus GC2 boards are targeted mainly at the pharma, healthcare, beauty, confectionery and dry food packaging sectors.
“We are a very significant player in the pharmaceutical market in Europe,” says Mr Jamrozik. The main benefits of Alaska and Alaska Plus in pharmaceutical packaging are the high stability of their quality and their excellent efficiency levels in terms of packaging production, as well as their solid performance on the packing lines.
Also noteworthy is that part of the 60 million+ US dollar investment went into two new sheeters for coated paperboard. This additional sheeting capacity will allow International Paper to offer an even more flexible service from Kwidzyn. Alaska Plus is already part of the company’s quick ‘Kwidzyn X-Press’ service, where orders starting from just 1 ton in bespoke sheet size are produced, with a lead time of just four days (plus transit time).
International Paper’s Kwidzyn Mill
In 1992 International paper acquired the mill at Kwidzyn, which had been previously established in 1972. Since 1993 International Paper has invested over 850 million USD in the mill and is also dedicated to supporting the local Kwidzyn community.
Since the Kwidzyn mill start-up in 1982 the Polish site has expanded and now produces coated paperboard, uncoated woodfree papers and newsprint. The Kwidzyn mill is fully integrated with its pulp production plant divided into a kraft and mechanical pulp line and a de-inked pulp plant. The International Paper Kwidzyn mill has four paper machines in total, for office paper, offset paper and newsprint, as well as a coated paperboard machine. It employs around 1,300 staff.
Due to the vast amount of paper and board products that it produces, International Paper places the environment and the issue of sustainability as a priority for its business operations. It works in compliance with the ISO 14001 standard and sources all wood from sustainably managed forests located near to the mill. The Folding Boxboard products Arktika, Alaska Plus and Alaska are available with FSC® certification.