VPK Group modernised its DA Alizay paper mill into a recycled paper-based packaging production site. Credit: VPK Group.
The modernisation helps VPK to meet its internal supply needs. Credit: VPK Group.
Andritz was contracted to supply a complete OCC line, including a reject treatment system for the modernisation of the facility. Credit: Andritz.

VPK Group, a packaging solutions provider based in Belgium, converted its DA Alizay paper mill in Normandy, France, into a recycled paper-based production site in line with its long-term sustainable development strategies.

The €200m ($215m) transition improves the mill’s environmental performance and contributes to the industrial and economic development in Normandy.

The converted plant became operational in June 2023 and has an estimated annual production capacity of 500,000 tonnes (t) of lightweight recycled containerboard of grades between 70 grams per square metre and 135 grams per square metre.

VPK produces more than one million tonnes of recycled paper in France from the Alizay paper mill and two other paper mills in Gironde and Alsace.

VPK’s Alizay facility location and development details

VPK’s paper production facility is located in Zone lndustrielle du Glos Pre BP 4 in Normandy, France.

In June 2021, VPK Group acquired the DA Alizay facility from Double A Holdings, a Thailand-based pulp and paper manufacturer, for the development of the Alizay Sustainable Development Hub, which contributes to the environmental, economic and industrial development in the Normandy region. Watson Farley & Williams acted as an advisor for the transaction.

VPK upgraded and converted the paper mill in collaboration with Double A Holdings, and Inova Pulp and Paper (IPP), a deinked pulp production company. IPP built a wastepaper recycling plant at the Alizay paper mill site for the production of deinked pulp.

VPK’s Alizay facility modernisation details

The Alizay facility’s paper machines were repurposed into board machines to manufacture recycled lightweight containerboard. The conversion was achieved using Valmet’s OptiFeed Approach system, which is an energy-efficient integrated wet-end system that not only lowers life cycle costs but also enhances product quality and machine operations.

The Alizay site is capable of producing Z-fold corrugated board tailored to the distribution centres’ requirements, which helps to cut logistics costs and eliminates the need for void fill-in packaging.

The revamp involved several upgrades, including a new design for the paper machine headbox, enhancements to the forming section with the integration of shoe and blade technology, and the installation of a new OptiPress Center press section to boost drying efficiency and operation.

Additionally, the facility’s drying section was updated to the OptiRun Hybrid dryer solution, and comprehensive modernisation of the paper machine ventilation systems was undertaken.

Improvements were also made to the facility’s automation systems, encompassing machine control, quality management, process control systems, and the paper machine clothing package.

The board machine at Alizay, with a net production width of 8.8m, utilises 650,000t of recovered paper and board sourced from France. The material is processed to produce recycled lightweight containerboard by VPK and deinked pulp by VPP.

Equipment details

A new old corrugated container (OCC) line was installed, capable of handling 1,400 bone-dry tonnes per day and featuring a reject treatment system.

The line includes the PrimePulping LC system for efficient slushing and reject removal, PrimeScreen X screens for energy-efficient multi-stage fine screening, PrimeFilter D disc filters for enhanced thickening performance, and state-of-the-art ADuro shredders and reject compactors for reject treatment.

Additionally, a new corrugated packaging production unit specialising in creating innovative and protective customised packaging solutions for the e-commerce sector was developed.

A new digital printer, the first of its kind in France, was also installed at the site. The printer is capable of high-definition printing at remarkable speeds and offers a range of possibilities, including the ability to print on the inside of e-commerce packaging, create point-of-sale displays, and support various marketing initiatives.

Sustainability features

The site houses Bioenergie Alizay, a 50MW biomass power plant, which supplies decarbonated steam and electricity to IPP’s deinked pulp plant and the converted paper mill.

The plant produces carbon-free steam and electricity for various on-site users. The biomass boiler and water treatment plant generate green energy utilised in the paper production process. In terms of electricity production capacity, it is equivalent to the consumption of 240,000 people.

Annually, the site recycles 550,000t of recovered paper sourced within a 250km radius of the mill, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions from both production and transportation.

The facility handles 250,000t of wood annually, sourced from the forestry sector, the wood industry, and wood reaching the end of its life cycle. Utilising residual heat from the paper production process, the facility generates 150 pellets each year.

The pellets also serve to generate carbon-free steam in VPK’s additional plants located in France, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Contractors involved

Valmet, a Finnish technology supplier for paper and pulp industries, was contracted to supply a grade conversion rebuild for the modernisation of VPK’s Alizay paper mill, in December 2021.

Andritz, an Austrian pulp and paper industry supplier, was awarded a contract to supply the OCC line for the Alizay mill, in November 2011. It also provided full detailed engineering, start-up, and commissioning services for the project.