DS Smith Paper Mill in Viana do Castelo celebrates 50 years

Viana Paper Mill

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  • The mill is a benchmark in Portugal and a market leader in Southern Europe. 
  • With a recently announced  investment strategy, the company is already preparing for the plant's next 50 years and beyond.

DS Smith, the leading provider of sustainable packaging solutions, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its kraft paper mill in Viana do Castelo. This is a historic milestone for the company, which back in April 2023 announced a multi-year investment, equipping it  with some of the most advanced papermaking technologies and helping reduce CO2 emissions by 10,000 tonnes a year.

Construction began on the Viana do Castelo mill in 1971 but continuous operation only began  in January 1974. In 1976, it was nationalized up until the year 2000 where it was reprivatized and eventually acquired by Europac.

After an ambitious modernisation plan, which allowed it to diversify its products, enter the energy production market and invest in paper for recycling as an important source of raw materials, it strengthened its position as one of the most efficient kraftliner mills in Europe. It is currently the country's largest paper recycler.

In 2019, the DS Smith group, leading supplier of sustainable packaging, acquired the Europac group for 1.9 billion euro and, by extension, the Viana paper mill.

The mill is currently undergoing a modernisation process aimed at equipping it with some of the most advanced papermaking technologies ensuring operations are more environmentally friendly and sustainable.  This process is due to an investment announced in 2023 of 145 million euros, DS Smith's largest financial investment in Portugal to date, and the largest investment in the mill's history.

Mário Amaralthe plant's Manufacturing Director, says: "The plant is preparing for the future, to face the next fifty years at ease."

With its first phase being completed in October of last year, the development programme is still underway, as he explains: "The project is at cruising speed, with the first phase consisting of refurbishing the paper machine presses, and reinforcing key equipment, with the aim of improving energy efficiency and reducing environmental impacts. The second phase is the replacement of the recovery boiler, which is underway and scheduled for completion in May 2025." The new top-of-the-range boiler will help make the virgin pulp production line more efficient.

The Viana mill is a benchmark in the Portuguese industry and makes a strong contribution to the country’s exports. It exports around 90 per cent of its capacity and plays an important role in the country's economic development, as well as in DS Smith's business.

Niels FliermanHead of Paper & Recycling at DS Smith, commented: "I’m proud to be celebrating the Viana mill’s half century anniversary. It has a massive role to play in all our operations. Our 2023 investment into the mill ensures that we meet the growing demands for sustainable packaging but doing so in a way that aligns with our goals of aiding the transition to a low carbon, circular economy.”

In the Alto Minho region, this industrial unit is also valued by the community for the solidity it has shown over the 50 years it has been in operation and for its contribution to the local economy. The stability, employment and good working conditions it provides are all factors that have helped to make the mill an important part of the local community.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the mill has several initiatives planned throughout the year, namely: the launch of a book about its 50 years of history, a social event with current and former employees of the company and an Open Day to welcome former employees.

  • The Viana do Castelo mill began to be built in 1971 by the CELNORTE group of private investors.
  • In 1976 it was nationalized and integrated into Portucel E.P
  • The mill was reprivatized in 2000 by a joint venture made up of Sonae and Europac.
  • Europac became the main shareholder in 2005 and renamed the mill Europac Kraft Viana.
  • DS Smith acquired Europac for 1.9 billion Euros in 2019 and named the mill: DS Smith Paper Viana.

About DS Smith:  

DS Smith is a leading provider of sustainable fibre-based packaging worldwide, which is supported by recycling and papermaking operations. It plays a central role in the value chain across sectors including e-commerce, fast moving consumer goods and industrials. Through its purpose of ‘Redefining Packaging for a Changing World’ and its Now and Next sustainability strategy, DS Smith is committed to leading the transition to the circular economy, while delivering more circular solutions for its customers and wider society – replacing problem plastics, taking carbon out of supply chains and providing innovative recycling solutions. Its bespoke box-to-box in 14 days model, design capabilities and innovation strategy sit at the heart of this response. Headquartered in London and a member of the FTSE 100, DS Smith operates in 34 countries employing around 30,000 people and is a Strategic Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Its history can be traced back to the box-making businesses started in the 1940s by the Smith family.

Source: DS Smith