Smurfit Kappa Parenco’s paper mill is located in Renkum, around 75 kilometers southeast of Amsterdam. The mill’s two machines produce containerboard and magazine paper from recycled materials. The company is part of Irish-based Smurfit Kappa Group, which is the leading corrugated packaging company in Europe.
“Everything we do is focused on sustainability and circularity,” says Ruben van Haren, Director of Human Resources at Smurfit Kappa Parenco. “Our raw materials have been 100% circular since 2009, and we use around 750,000 tons of waste paper each year. We cover 40% of our energy needs with energy we produce from biomass and biogas. And for the future we are already looking at the potential to utilize hydrogen and ultra-deep geothermal energy. Our processes need a lot of energy, so efficiency is a top priority for us.”
Efficiency and circularity
In all, the mill has around 3,500 ABB Process performance induction motors, together with several large technical rooms housing ABB drives.
“The more efficiently our business operates, the more sustainable we are,” says Bram Graven, Maintenance Manager at Smurfit Kappa Parenco. “So we were enthusiastic when ABB in the Netherlands told us about their Energy Efficiency Campaign. They suggested that any electric motors needing to be changed in the foreseeable future should be replaced with highly efficient IE4 motors. In addition, the old motors would be properly recycled.”
An ABB recycling partner, HKS Metals, handles the take-back and recycling of the old motors. HKS Metals – which is part of the global recycling group Remondis - utilizes state-of-the-art techniques, and no less than 98% of the material fractions will be reused within the EU. Some of the materials will even be used to build new motors.
“This was one of the key factors that motivated us to take part in the campaign,” says van Haren. “It’s not only an attractive initiative from the sustainability perspective, but it’s also very beneficial from the cost viewpoint, given the level of energy prices. Our aim is to be completely CO2 neutral by 2040, and more energy efficient motors will have an important role to play in this. The ABB campaign is a good match with our sustainability strategy.”
Meeting Ecodesign requirements
Henk Heezen, Sales Specialist, LV Motors at ABB in the Netherlands, states that one of the factors behind ABB’s campaign is the EU Ecodesign Directive, which is tightening the energy efficiency requirements for motors and drives.
“Since mid-2021 most new low voltage industrial motors have had to be at least IE3 versions. From July 1, 2023 the requirement goes up to IE4 for motors rated between 75 and 200 kW,” he states. “At ABB we want to contribute to a climate-neutral society, and we decided to launch an Energy Efficiency Campaign in the Netherlands. The campaign is also a great fit with the Energy Efficiency Movement, a global initiative launched in 2021 by ABB and other stakeholders. The Energy Efficiency Movement aligns with our strategy of supporting customers in their efforts to achieve an annual reduction in their collective carbon footprint of 100 million tons by 2030.”
Heezen explains that Smurfit Kappa Parenco has already replaced dozens of motors with highly efficient IE4 units: “Companies in the Netherlands have a legal obligation to implement all energy-saving measures that have a payback time of five years or less. With current energy prices, these investments quickly pay for themselves. To put things into perspective: with the mill operating 24/7, if all the existing motors were replaced by IE4 versions, they would save 170,000 kWh per year compared to motors with an efficiency class of IE2 or lower. That’s equivalent to the annual electricity use of almost 70 households in the Netherlands.”
“Our collaboration with ABB is really smooth,” says Graven. “Everything is well organized. ABB's recycling partner brings a waste container for us to fill with old motors. When it’s full, it gets picked up. It’s all very easy.”
“It’s important for us that our business partners are committed to sustainability,” van Haren adds. “And we find that the people at ABB are like us – they do it from a strong sense of motivation. We’ve been working together with ABB since 1978, and we’ve built a very solid working relationship.”