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Comment Sustainability

Stora Enso paper mill to be repurposed for textile recycling

By Mary Page Bailey |

Fashion and textile technology company Infinited Fiber Co. (Espoo, Finland) plans to build a commercial-scale factory to produce regenerated textile fiber for the world’s leading apparel companies at the site of renewable materials company Stora Enso’s closed Veitsiluoto paper mill in Kemi, a Finnish city on the northern shore of the Baltic Sea. The size of the investment is estimated at EUR 400 million, and it is expected to create around 270 jobs in the area. The annual fiber production capacity of the planned factory is expected to be 30,000 metric tons, which is equivalent to the fiber needed for about 100 million T-shirts.  

textile

Infinited Fiber picks the site of a defunct paper plant in Finnish Lapland for its planned EUR 400 million textile fiber factory investment (photo source: Stora Enso)

Infinited Fiber Company’s technology enables cotton-rich textile waste to be transformed into a versatile, high-quality regenerated textile fiber called Infinna™, which looks and feels like cotton. Major international fashion and apparel companies – including Zara’s parent company Inditex, PVH Europe, which is known for the Tommy Hilfiger brand, Patagonia, PANGAIA, H&M Group and BESTSELLER – have already committed to Infinna™ purchases through multi-year agreements as they look for materials that enable the industry to shift towards circularity. Infinited Fiber Company expects to export most of the output of its planned factory. This makes Kemi an ideal location as the city’s port serves as an efficient link to the rest of the world. 

Infinited Fiber Company will convert a building housing a discontinued paper production line into an Infinna™ fiber factory. Both the factory engineering and project implementation as well as the related financing negotiations were commenced at the beginning of the year and are progressing well. Infinited Fiber Company has also agreed on the provision of energy and water related services with utility infrastructure company Nevel. 

Once up and running, the factory is expected to provide direct employment for around 220 people, and for a further 50 through on-site support functions such as services, maintenance, and logistics. The additional indirect employment impact is estimated to be around 800 jobs. The construction and installation phase is expected to create jobs equaling around 120 person-years. The factory is anticipated to operate at full capacity in 2025. 

 “Circularity is at the heart of our business. We aim to make use of existing resources in all that we do, which makes the historic Veitsiluoto industrial site a great fit for us. At the same time, we will be creating new export products and jobs,” says Infinited Fiber Company CEO and co-founder Petri Alava. “Finland has solid bioeconomy know-how and is very supportive of circular economy innovations. We see these as major strengths that enable Finland to become a leader in the creation of the new, circular economy-based textile industry value chain.”

Infinited Fiber Company selected the Veitsiluoto industrial site after reviewing dozens of potential premises across Finland. Decisive factors supporting the decision included the site’s excellent existing infrastructure, the availability of fresh water, renewable electricity and energy, efficient port services, and local skilled labor. 

“We are pleased to get part of the Veitsiluoto site utilized and happy about the investments and jobs that Infinited Fiber Company is set to bring there,” says Stora Enso Chief Financial Officer and Finland Country Manager Seppo Parvi.

“Supporting the transition to a climate-positive future through long-term cooperation is extremely important for us. We are delighted to be a utility infrastructure partner for Infinited Fiber Company as it prepares to build its factory in Veitsiluoto, and we believe that this collaboration will also create new opportunities in the area,” says Thomas Luther, CEO of Nevel.

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