Day 10: Paper, paper, and more paper!!!

6am came bright and early but we had to be on the road by 7:15 to make Stora Enso by 9am. Allison and I completed our on-board presentation as we were rolling up to the plant.

I’ve been in various plants before but never a paper plant and this was eye-opening. Stora Enso’s Hylte plant was HUGE! We suited up safety vests, helmets, and goggles for a two hour tour of how newspaper is made.

Allison and I on the Stora Enso Tour

Allison and I on the Stora Enso Tour

Our guide, Maria, did a great job of taking us step-by-step through the process. They have definitely implemented a variety of lean production characteristics but what most impressed me was their willingness to admit that they are facing a variety of challenges. Two of the four paper mills have been shuttered and they refuse to go down without a fight. Of note for this tour, we were allowed to take as many photos as we’d like.

Over lunch Maria was commenting that they had explored the option of producing shrimp in the excess steam/water tanks since they had the space and necessary inputs. It was actually very refreshing to see a company admit such things compared to the other companies that showed us their best side. The visit ended with a very interesting brainstorming exercise where we formed groups of four to come up with our ideas of what they should do. I was really impressed with all the creative thoughts that people had and Stora Enso’s willingness to appear to seriously consider some of those. I am not sure that a U.S. company would have a) been so forthright acknowledging their challenges and b) being willing to solicit ideas. Though they have a lot of work ahead I hope that I am able to revisit the plant in 10 years to see all the amazing, creative things that they have done.

Random Items Found in Recycled Paper

Random Items Found in Recycled Paper

Birch Tree Growing out of Unused Machineryry

Birch Tree Growing out of Unused Machinery

Piles of Woodchips Used for Paper

Piles of Woodchips Used for Paper

Huge Crane Unloading Timber

Huge Crane Unloading Timber

Finished Paper

Finished Paper

Fun fact: you should NEVER recycle Post-It Notes. The glue makes the machines get clogged and they have to be thrown away/burned. Who knew!?

This was followed by a two hour bus ride to Gothenburg, our home base for the next two days. After a great dinner at the hotel – easily one of the best I’ve had on this vacation consisting of a seafood salad on toast, veal meatball with lingonberries and potatoes, and a great chocolate dessert with raspberry mouse – a few of use took a walk around Gothenburg. I ended the evening with drinks with Allyson (not the roomie – the other awesome Allyson on the trip) and Mark in the hotel lobby (which is located above the train station – very cool and surprisingly quiet!). I’m off to try to work on my final paper and then sleep.

Sunset over Gothenburg

Sunset over Gothenburg

View from the Hotel Lobby

View from the Hotel Lobby

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