Sappi's Somerset Mill Celebrates Completion of Paper Machine Rebuild

Jul 30, 2019 3:00 PM ET
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To meet customer needs for renewable paperbased packaging, we comprehensively rebuilt Paper Machine 1 (PM1) at our Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, Maine. In 2018, we completed the 16-month project, launching a broad range of high-quality paperboard products. Maine’s governor joined Sappi management, local legislators, state officials, and members of the media to tour the rebuilt paper machine, see examples of the mill’s new packaging products, and ask questions of the staff and Sappi officials at the event.

Tony Ouellette, Sappi North America Managing Director, explained that the investment establishes a strong platform for growth in paperboard packaging, allowing Sappi to bring new, innovative paper-based packaging solutions to the market. The rebuild increases annual production capacity at the mill to almost one million tons per year.

Mark Gardner, President and CEO of Sappi North America, credited the Somerset team for the significant investment being made there: “The main reason this site was chosen is the people we have here,” Gardner said. “Somerset is a world-class mill, but at the end of the day, what will separate a winning company is the people.”

“We see it as a major stepping stone for the future of the mill, and the future of the business here,” Gardner continued. “We’re really excited about the products we’re getting off the machine.”

Sappi was the first company to set the standard for coated paper, with roots extending back to 1854. Now, the company is setting the new standard in recyclable paperboard packaging. All the new product lines will have global availability and provide convertors with superior color consistency, printability and downstream performance.

Heather Pelletier, Sappi North America’s Director of Packaging Brands, explained that the newly rebuilt machine moves Sappi into new paperboard grades. Products made from the paperboard produced on PM1 will include plates, cups, and take-out boxes. “PM1 will also produce luxury packaging products and folding carton applications, including high-end perfume boxes, packaging for women’s makeup, fancy embossed boxes, and liquor boxes,” she said.

Maine senators Susan Collins and Angus King issued a joint statement praising the investment: “It is critical that companies make longterm investments and pursue forward-thinking strategies to respond to changing market demands. Sappi has done just that with their recent investment and upgrades at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, which supports hundreds of jobs across Maine.”

Governor LePage said the paper industry is reinventing itself and providing jobs for the future. Reflecting on his witnessing of the first paper machine coming to Skowhegan in 1982, the governor stressed the need to educate the next generation of mill workers, who will benefit from this investment.

Read more from Sappi North America's 2018 Sustainability Report here: