Cloquet, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Sappi Cloquet Pulp Mill has finished its conversion to produce specialized cellulose.
Sappi officials say they're realizing paper production is something of a dying industry with demand for paper products being dampened by the proliferation of electronic devices in our lives.
"A lot of mills have shut down. A lot of paper mills have shut down." Said Vice President of Procurement and Fiber Resources, Deece Hannigan.
Sappi is choosing to produce a dissolving wood pulp, or a specialized cellulose as they call it, which is a versatile raw material used in textile and consumer goods markets.
"We're now going into a market that is completely different from paper. It's about making a chemical to be converted into textiles." Said Hannigan.
The large majority of the new specialized cellulose product will be sold to manufacturers in Asia and Europe.
The company has invested about 170–million dollars into the conversion project.
Upgrades to the facility include a new style de–barker, a refuse digester and burning facility, as well as a new bleaching stage which uses an ozone injector.
"It really strengthens this facility for the next 20–30 years and we're going to be able to sell everything we make and we're going to be able to stay profitable." Said Sappi Managing Director Rick Dwyer.
Sappi is now the world's largest manufacturer of specialized cellulose with the Cloquet Mill now able to produce about 330 – thousand metric tons per year.
The mill has also invested 15 million dollars toward its paper producing sector as well and plans to continue producing paper using pulp from outside sources.