Lucart: Committed to the Circular Economy

Technically and environmentally, its Diecimo mill is a leader.

GRAEME RODDEN

Founded in 1953 by the Pasquini family in Villa Basilica (Lucca), Tuscany, Italy, and known as Carteria Lucchese, Lucart continues to grow, with 10 tissue production and converting operations in four European countries. The Lucart name was adopted after the company acquired Georgia-Pacific’s operation in Europe in 2013. Today, the company still rests in the hands of the Pasquini family, with Massimo now serving as president and CEO.

Lucart operates 12 machines, nine of which are tissue, one airlaid and two MG. This will change soon as Lucart is about to start up a new Toscotec tissue machine at its Porcari mill, also near Lucca. The new machine at Porcari will replace the oldest MG machine, PM 2. PM 3 will continue to produce MG paper.

Just over half of the mill’s furnish is recovered paper, including Tetrapak cartons.

Most recently, the company was in the news for its acquisition of the CEL facilities in Spain (two tissue machines, four converting lines). A modern logistics center is located in Altopascio, near Lucca.

In total, Lucart can produce 360,000 metric tpy of tissue. It also has 65 converting lines.

Its Diecimo mill near Lucca is the company’s largest, with three machines producing about 106,000 metric tpy. It also houses 21 converting lines. About 40 percent of its converting capacity is used for bathroom tissue, and it does sell a few parent reels as well.

Covering 243,000 m2, the mill is wedged between the Serchio River and mountains. Without room to expand and with production increasing, Lucart decided to build a new 24,000-m2 warehouse at Altopascio to house Away-from Home (AfH) products made at Diecimo.

Lucart is also converting some AfH tissue made at its other mills at Diecimo. To increase efficiency, the company installed a new logistics system at the Diecimo warehouse.

The automated system uses Elettric80 AGVs to load the trucks destined for Altopascio. They can pick up product from the conveyors coming from the converting plant and load directly onto trucks waiting in one of two dedicated bays. It takes the AGVs only 12 minutes to load a truck.

A similar system is in place at Altopascio. The system also produces all the documentation needed, which can be downloaded from the truck drivers’ iPods.

Installed in 2018, Mill Manager Roberto Benzi explains that some debugging is still underway. The mill is still working out the best routes for the AGVs in the warehouse. There is potential to expand the system throughout the warehouse to more of the truck bays.

The mill is very much a pace setter in other areas. As noted, it produces 106,000 metric tons/year on three machines, two Overmeccanica units, PM 5 and PM 6, installed in 1990 and 1991. They are “twin” machines, each producing 25,000 metric tons/year PM 7 is a Beloit machine installed in 1996 and producing 56,000 metric tons/year.

One of Diecimo’s claims to fame is its ability to recycle Tetrapak cartons (pre- and post-consumer). It can do this, as can its sister mill in Laval sur Vologne, France. This is Lucart’s Fibrepack® project, part of its efforts in following the principles of a circular economy. In its Sustainability Report for 2016, the company notes: “The fibrous material recovered from beverage cartons has a higher percentage of long fibers than a standard virgin cellulose mix, a characteristic which assures better performance in terms of product resistance and absorbency.”

Tetrapak cartons usually contain 74 percent fiber, 22 percent poly and four percent aluminum. Yield from the Tetrapak material runs about 50 percent. Even the non-usable material is valuable. The mill collects the aluminum and sells it, and from the plastics, it can make tissue dispensers and pallets.

A special treatment for post-consumer Tetrapak cartons removes all contaminants since the end product may be used for medical applications. Lucart also installed a new Kadant screen system in mid-2018 that has increased yield by five percent.

In total, the mill’s furnish is about 45 percent virgin, the rest recycled – Tetrapak and other recovered paper. Virgin pulp (long and short fiber) is sourced worldwide and usually arrives by ship in the port of Livorno. Lucart was able to secure a rail connection from Livorno, about 80 km away. Benzi adds that the mill can then load rail cars with tissue destined for the domestic market rather than sending empty cars back to the port.

Still, Lucart would like to ship more product by train, but even getting that 80-km connection from Livorno was a “challenge,” adds Benzi. It is looking at using the train to connect with its sister mill in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, about 30 km away, but, as Benzi notes, it is an issue the company has to work on. “We want to be as sustainable as possible.”

The mill produces bathroom and facial tissue, kitchen towel and napkins as well as medical wipes. Basis weights range from 15 to 30 g/m2, depending on the product. It produces private label as well as its own brands: Tenderly, Velo, Tutto, Smile, FATO, Grazie Natural, Lucart Professional, and Tenderly Professional.

With about 25 percent market share, Lucart is a leader in the AfH market in Italy. It is growing throughout Europe as well, particularly in the AfH sector. Diecimo’s AfH products are shipped all over Europe. Its at home products are mostly used in Italy.

PMs 5 and 6 produce tissue from a furnish of virgin pulp and recovered paper in any possible combination. PM 7, a two-ply machine, uses only a virgin fiber furnish.

In November, Toscotec will replace the yankee cylinder on PM 6, while PM 5’s will be replaced in April 2019. “This will give us more steam in the dryer and, therefore, increased production,” Benzi explains.

Also in 2019, a new GE LT12 gas turbine will be installed at the mill, with a capacity of 12 MWh.

Water consumption is a constant concern to the company, which strives to reduce its environmental footprint annually. Currently, Diecimo uses about 11 m3/tonne, although tissue made with a 100 percent virgin fiber furnish only requires about 6 m3/tonne. As a group, Lucart uses 9.69 m3/tonne across all its facilities.

On the converting side, Benzi says the balance in the mill is quite good at present. However, the space in the converting facility may need to be reconfigured.

From project to project, Lucart continues to grow. It knows its market and, as Benzi says, it wants to be known for the high quality of its products.

Integrating the CEL acquisition into the Lucart family is a key objective in the near future. It also owns a plant in Hungary (thanks to a 2016 acquisition) that has five converting lines. A new Perini machine for converting bathroom tissue was recently installed.

In 2017, turnover reached EUR 450 million. It is well diversified, with the AfH sector accounting for 38.6 percent of income, consumer (at home) 35.3 percent, and the business to business sector 26.1 percent.