Italian tissue paper manufacturer Sofidel opened its 280-acre plant in Circlville on Wednesday. It's the company's first integrated paper plant built from the ground up in the United States. Sofidel’s new Circleville plant is also one of its most technologically and environmentally advanced tissue paper plants in the world, with innovative machinery that increases both the quality of its products and the energy efficiency of its operations.
The grand opening ceremony marks a major milestone for the company and its growth in the United States, the world’s biggest market for tissue paper consumption per capita. Since expanding to the United States in 2012, Sofidel now has operations in seven states: Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Circleville plant, which produces toilet paper, napkins and paper towels, is Sofidel’s first greenfield investment in the country.
“The United States is a crucial market for us and is where we intend to grow,’’ said Luigi Lazzareschi, CEO of the Sofidel Group, which owns subsidiaries in 13 countries, including Sofidel America. “This plant will help us fuel our growth significantly and further our commitment to sustainable, environmentally responsible development. We are extremely proud of this plant and look forward to being an important part of the Circleville community for decades to come.”
“This is an historic moment for Sofidel,’’ said Emi Stefani, chairman of the Sofidel Group. “This facility is our largest, most modern and sustainable to date and employs the best technology available in the tissue paper industry.’’
Sofidel has invested about $400 million in the site and, once running at full capacity, the facility will employ approximately 700 people.
Lazzareschi and Stefani were joined by Brian Lenihan, acting executive director of SelectUSA, and Kenny McDonald, president and chief economic officer for Columbus 2020, in celebrating the opening of the plant. Sofidel clients and suppliers, federal, state and local officials, and other stakeholders also attended the event. The project was made possible through the support from SelectUSA, JobsOhio, Columbus 2020, the Pickaway Progress Partnership and other public and private partnerships.
The Circleville plant is an integrated facility that incorporates a paper mill, where pulp is transformed into paper, a converting plant that produces the finished product, and a state-of-the-art warehousing facility. The plant has a total production capacity of 140,000 tons a year.
The facility is equipped with two Advantage New Tissue Technology (NTT) 200 paper mill machines, manufactured by Valmet, a global leader in the development and supply of technologies for the pulp, paper and energy processing industries. Advantage NTT 200 technology allows the production of standard tissue and textured paper and will enable Sofidel to further increase the quality of its products, reduce water usage, and recycle heat to power driers and fuel the plant. Each machine can produce 2,000 meters of 5.5-meter-wide paper sheets per minute.
The plant has 10 lines for producing the finished products, including three Constellation lines manufactured by Fabio Perini, with advanced reeling technology that preserves the product’s softness while ensuring uniform sheet separation from start to finish of every roll.
Guided by the principle “Less is More,’’ Sofidel’s Circleville development strategy focused on sustainability. Sofidel was the first global tissue company to join the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Climate Savers program. The plant features a new system for recovering heat generated by turbines. The heat will be conveyed through extractor hoods and used to dry the rolls of paper, then produce steam. The system will supply almost all the energy needed to dry the paper and, under certain operating conditions, will power the entire machine.
In addition, the plant has adapted techniques from the food and beverage industry to improve logistics. An automated system transfers paper reels from the paper mill to the converting lines using laser guided vehicles (LGVs). An automated Smart Store warehouse is capable of handling more than 50,000 pallets of finished product, creating a space savings of up to 40 percent.
Sofidel chose the 280-acre site south of Columbus, Ohio, based on its accessibility to underground water sources, reliable and affordable utilities (natural gas and electricity), a skilled workforce and intermodal transportation systems.
Following the plant’s grand opening, Sofidel is announcing the winners of its annual 3S Award (Sofidel Suppliers Sustainability Award) in Columbus on Thursday. The awards recognize suppliers who have created initiatives to improve corporate social and environmental responsibility, including in the areas of reduced greenhouse emissions and water consumption, and increased usage of renewable energy.