A few weeks ago, two members of the JPS Limited team jetted off to Sweden to attend a papermill academy hosted by Stora Enso to learn all the ins and outs of paper production, unaware that this trip would, among other things, lead them into a hunt for an infamous ghost-horse.
Day one. 11pm. What goes bump in the night
Natalie Bishop, key account manager, and Zoe Gibson, junior account manager, embarked on the training programme to help their understanding of the different processes involved in manufacturing the different types of paper that JPS Limited use for their clients.
Arriving late in the day in Copenhagen, Denmark, before travelling across the border to Sweden, Natalie and Zoe were met by Martin from Stora Enso, the organiser of the trip, to be taken to the remote and supposedly haunted Backaskog Castle in Sweden. It was this castle where they would be staying for the duration of the visit, along with the others on the trip who had travelled from a wide-array of countries including Russia, Finland, Sweden and Greece.
The castle used to be home to a king, his wife, and his many mistresses. There are rumours of a secret spiral staircase that would lead from his room to the room of his mistress – something which Zoe is keen to investigate.
The trip gets off to an exciting start, after an exploration in search of this staircase results in Zoe in fact discovering that not only does this staircase exist – it leads to the very room she is staying in!
Day two. 7am. Going sub-zero
The next morning, to experience the process of paper production from the very beginning, Natalie and Zoe’s day is kicked off with a trip to Sydved Forest, a privately-owned forest.
The group arrived in the forest just after 9am, and were swiftly supplied with hats, scarves and coffees to keep them warm in the near-zero temperatures.
Once firmly wrapped-up, the group were then able to witness first-hand the thinning process – where a handful of thinner or less healthy trees are selected to chop down to ensure the others can reach their full potential. The process is an expensive one especially given the use of the £4million “Harvester”, which was of course immediately explored by both Zoe and Natalie. What was most surprising to discover however, were the secret uses of the different parts of the tree. As it turns out, every single bit of the tree is used and absolutely nothing is wasted. Whether it’s lollipop sticks or electricity, all parts of the tree, even down to the chemical compound, lignin, are used to create one thing or another.
While the top half of the tree is used for pulpwood to create paper, board and tissue, the lower half of the tree is used for timber to be used in the construction or furniture industry. In fact, even waste products such as left-over beech or the lignin which is removed to create “wood-free” paper, have their uses. The beech is what is used to create lollipop sticks, while the lignin can be burnt with bark to create electricity and steam, or can be used to produce vanilla sugar.
After a thorough explore of both a hardwood and softwood forest, the group were on their way to Nymölla mill to observe the next step of the paper-making process.
Having this time been supplied with ear plugs to protect them from the noise, the first thing to strike Zoe and Natalie as they step into the mill is the sheer size of everything in there. The machinery down to the final mother reels of paper are all of massive proportions, and it’s easy to understand why in some mills, workers are known to use bikes to get around the floor.
The group are taken through every step of the process of turning the trees into pulp, from the initial debarking and chipping processes, through to the cooking and bleaching. It’s at this stage where the pulp is separated into long and short fibres to get ready to start the paper making process, which is next on Natalie and Zoe’s agenda for the day.
At the beginning of the paper making process, surprisingly only 1 per cent of the mixture is fibre – the rest is all water. But after going through every section of the huge machinery, the paper finishes with only 5 per cent moisture.
Day two. 7pm. Did you say ghost horse?
It’s been quite the day by the time Zoe and Natalie arrive back at the castle, but thankfully they’re greeted by an exquisite meal, fit for a king and with wine pairings to match.
And after dinner, and many glasses of wine, the group decide to go on a hunt for the infamous “ghost horse”, which is said to roam the grounds of the castle. They manage to find the horse’s tombstone, but unfortunately, there is no sign of the horse – so they decide to retire to their bedrooms.
Day three. 6.30am. Storm Doris crashes the tour
The group only have the morning before their flights back, which starts with one last tour around the mill to see how some of the paper is finished at the end of the line and packed into boxes as copier paper. This is followed by some time spent in the classroom, discussing paper classifications and properties.
This is something that is extremely interesting and beneficial to Natalie and Zoe, as discussing paper properties is something they do every day with their clients to recommend the best possible paper for their product. JPS are always keen to improve knowledge to ensure they can always provide their clients with the best and most up to date information and advice.
All too quickly, the trip is over and Zoe and Natalie are back at the airport waiting for their flight back to Manchester, which has been delayed by both a snow-storm and the notorious Storm Doris.
Day four. 1am. A late start? Or is it early?
It’s around 1am when they eventually land and they have work the next morning, but that doesn’t worry them – they’re excited to put into practice everything they’ve just learnt from the Stora Enso team.
Natalie and Zoe would like to thank the Stora Enso team for organising such a wonderful trip.
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