Stora Enso has decided to invest approximately EUR 1 billion to convert the remaining idle paper machine at the Group's Oulu site in Finland into a high-volume consumer board production line. The investment supports the Group's growth strategy in renewable packaging by providing new volume for growing packaging segments. Production on the converted machine is estimated to start in early 2025.
Following the first machine conversion at the Oulu site in 2021 from paper to kraftliner, the remaining idle paper line will be converted into a state-of-the-art highly flexible consumer board line for folding box board (FBB) and coated unbleached kraft (CUK). The total annual capacity will be 750,000 tonnes of consumer board. The target end-use segments are food and beverage packaging, especially frozen and chilled, and dry and fast food, mainly in Europe and North America.
"Renewable packaging continues to be our largest strategic growth area. It's also a market that is now, for the first time, growing faster than plastics-based alternatives. Through this conversion we can build on existing assets for quick and cost-effective time-to-market compared to other investment alternatives. This puts us in a strong position to drive revenue growth and build market share," says Stora Enso's president and chief executive officer, Annica Bresky.
The total investment will be approximately EUR 1 billion during 2022–2025. At full capacity, the investment is expected to meet the profitability target of the Packaging Materials division: operational return on operating capital (ROOC) of 20%. Annual sales are expected to be approximately EUR 800 million.
"This investment represents a step change in the European market and will develop our Oulu unit into a mega site, improving profitability and competitiveness for both our consumer board and containerboard offerings. The converted line will be the most cost-competitive FBB machine in Europe, also enabling us to optimise production at other sites to unlock further growth," says Hannu Kasurinen, executive vice president and head of the Packaging Materials division.
The investment is fully aligned with Stora Enso's sustainability commitments. It will support circularity by further enhancing the recycling performance of the Packaging Materials division's product portfolio. The Oulu site's total scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions will remain at a low level as they were already reduced by 80% during the first conversion in 2021.
The investment will create approximately 300 new jobs at the Oulu site and support functions, and an additional 1,500 indirect employment opportunities overall. The wood consumption of the new line will be approximately one million cubic metres of pulp wood. After the investment, the Group's market pulp position will be reduced by approximately 250,000 tonnes annually.