Smurfit Kappa has announced a three-year £98m investment plan in its Townsend Hook, Kent, paper-making facility. The installation and commissioning of a custom-designed, 5m, lightweight recycled container board machine is due to be completed and operational by the end of 2014. This will secure the supply of paper for all of Smurfit Kappa’s packaging operations in the UK and Ireland.

The new machine will produce lightweight corrugated papers, for use in Smurfit Kappa integrated plants meeting market requirements for high efficiency and sustainable, recycled paper-making .The cost associated with the project will be phased over three years and will be within the scope of SKG’s stated annual capital expenditure guidance. The outlay represents one of the largest investments by an established UK paper manufacturer and is a significant sign of Smurfit Kappa’s commitment to its customers.

The equipment sourced from Cartiera di Cadidavid will replace two existing container board machines, increasing Townsend Hook’s capacity of FSC certified, recycled paper per annum by over 8% from 240,000t to 260,000t.

Together with Smurfit Kappa’s SSK mill in Birmingham the company will offer the widest portfolio of corrugated paper available in the UK to ensure their customers have choice and continuity of supply. This security of supply is enhanced by its recycling organisation operating a fully closed loop system from recovered fibre, to paper, to box and back. Accredited with FSC certification and Carbon Trust Standard the new paper mill will offer the most sustainable approach to packaging in the UK.

Chris Allen, CEO, Smurfit Kappa Paper UK, comments: "This investment in the current financial climate shows Smurfit Kappa’s commitment to the UK, Ireland and Pan-European customers of our corrugated and paper divisions. The design of the new machine features state-of-the-art technology that will produce a superior lightweight paper, enhancing our position and confirming us as a leading player in the UK and Ireland. Smurfit Kappa’s two UK mills will now specialise in producing all the recycled brown corrugated case material for its UK and Irish corrugated business, whilst maintaining its presence in the market."

The investment continues the 150-year history of paper making at Townsend Hook.

Smurfit Kappa’s position in Europe as a leading paper manufacturer, producing 4.7m tonnes per annum, will ensure that the supply of paper to its customer base is uninterrupted during the complex installation and commissioning of the modern equipment.

Clive Bowers, CEO, Smurfit Kappa Corrugated UK, adds: "At a time of considerable change in the UK and European packaging markets, it is vitally important for our customers that continuity, innovation and quality of supply is maintained at all times. This major investment in our infrastructure underlines our desire to provide our customers with unparalleled advantage over their competitors, ensuring that Smurfit Kappa is always seen as leading our industry, with bold and decisive business policies for the long-term."