ONE of Tynedale's largest manufacturing employers has submitted multi-million-pound investment plans for a new paper recycling plant.

Essity Prudhoe Mill hopes to replace a 50-year-old recycling plant with a new building housing the latest recycling technology.

The technology will reduce energy costs, increase the company's ability to make new products from recycled fibre and reduce its dependence on virgin wood fibre, it has said.

"The old Unifibres building has served us well - but both it and some of the equipment it houses have reached the end of their working lives", said programme manager Paul Oliver.

Hexham Courant: Existing operationExisting operation

"Essity is committed to a more sustainable future and using recycled paper in our toilet rolls and paper towels has always been central to that.

"A high proportion of recycled paper in our products is also popular with our supermarket customers and environmentally-aware shoppers.

"In the past, most recycled pulp was made from office wastepaper - but availability went down as companies moved away from printers and photocopiers in favour of email and PDFs - and the post-Covid working from home trend has accelerated that."

A planning application has been submitted to Northumberland County Council - with a decision expected in the coming months.

If approved it will enable Essity to recycle new sources of lower-grade material - such as cardboard packaging used for the delivery of online shopping items - and protect the company from having to use greater amounts of more expensive virgin fibre in the future.

The old Unifibres building is deemed no longer fit for purpose and will be demolished if the new building, just north of the site, is granted permission. The area will be levelled, once production has moved to the new facility, and used for storage of the finished product.

“Growing our recycled fibre capability is vital to the long-term future of the business,” added Paul.  “The proposed new building and advanced production equipment will reduce our energy requirements, improve the working conditions for our staff and represents another significant investment in Prudhoe Mill. 

“This exciting project will also enhance long-term job prospects as well as training and development opportunities for employees and our apprentices.”