October 12, 2001

Nippon Paper Industries Starts In-House PCC Production at the Yatsushiro Mill

Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd.

Tokyo, October 12, 2001 - Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd., Japan's leading paper and pulp manufacturing firm and member of the Nippon Unipac Holding Group, today announced the smooth start-up of a precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) production facility at its Yatsushiro Mill. Completed in August 2001 after an investment of 1.3 billion yen, the new facility has enabled the Yatsushiro Mill to boost its production of neutralized paper through the application of PCC-based filler. The entire process can now be done within this one facility for the first time.
The Yatsushiro Mill is the second of Nippon Paper Industries' mills to be equipped with PCC production facilities; its Ishimaki Mill began producing PCC in 1998. The PCC production operations at both plants were built under a technical collaboration agreement with IMERYS, a major supplier of kaolin and carbonates for paper from the U.S.
The new PCC production facility at Yatsushiro, which is anticipated to produce 2,500 tons of PCC at full capacity, was designed to include improvements that are based on experiences with the Ishimaki Mill. The improvements made concern quality control, especially in ensuring consistency in the PCC crystals produced, so that they will be suitable for the kinds of paper to be milled at the Yatsushiro Mill.
Nippon Paper's move to add more PCC production capacity is timely because the current worldwide trend is away from acid paper and toward neutralized paper. Neutralized paper can use PCC-based filler in its production process because it contains very little or no aluminum sulfate as an adhesive stabilizer in its sizing treatment. This type of paper is normally manufactured for coated paper and high-end paper products. Acid paper, on the other hand, which is used for newspaper and lower-end products, makes full use of aluminum sulfate material in its sizing treatment. In terms of function, neutralized paper with PCC-based filler surpasses acid paper in permanence, quality (brighter and less transparent), and recyclability.
Neutralized paper is a promising alternative to acid paper and can contribute to greater resource- and energy-savings in the future recycling of used paper products. Currently in the recycling of batches of newspaper, which are typically composed of acid paper together with coated-paper materials like flyers and coupons, the first step is to chemically de-ink the mixed acid and neutralized paper with alkaline solution to make de-ink pulp (DIP). This treatment process makes the DIP alkaline in character. In order to make acid paper for newspaper from the alkaline DIP, an aluminum sulfate-based material must be again added in the sizing process. In other words, resources and energy are required to make acid paper into alkaline pulp, and then they are needed again to turn that pulp back into acid paper, thereby consuming more resources and creating more industrial waste than would the recycling of neutralized paper. Should newspapers be printed on neutralized paper in the future, their recycling processes will be relatively kinder to the environment. Nippon Paper Industries plans to expand its application of PCC filler to make new newsprint products in the near future, thereby making all of its paper products with neutralized paper at the Yatsushiro Mill.