International Paper jumped into recycled linerboard manufacturing in a big way last December with the start-up of a $350 million machine that produces up to 1 tons/day at its Mansfield LA mill. Made by Valmet (Charlotte NC) the equipment uses 100% recycled material to produce lightweight board in 26# to 47# basis weights in white-top and kraft varieties. It is capable of producing recycled/virgin blends as well. "There were three different issues that led us to installing this equipment" states Hal Tanner manager of packaging services for IP's Containerboard and Kraft Division. "One we did not previously have recycled linerboard production capability. "Two we recognized that one of the fastest-growing board markets is for white liners that offer visual appeal" he adds. "Now we have the capacity to produce solid bleached white and white-top linerboard. "Three we needed to strengthen our capacity in the high-performance lighter-weight board grades between 26 and 42 pounds." The Valmet machine "has given us a strong presence in these important market areas" says Tanner. Though IP wouldn't provide expected payback or sales figures it's apparent that the Purchase NY-based firm is satisfied with the machine thus far. "We significantly improved our position as a supplier of premium-grade containerboard with the start-up of the machine" notes the company's 1995 Annual Report. Customers also benefit. "The machine uses the latest technology in recycled fiber cleaning so it produces board with a much better appearance than many recycled grades" Tanner says. "The formation of fibers across the sheet is uniform with no clumps. That results in good ring crush and compression strength. We regularly test linerboard to make sure we're supplying a high-performance sheet that runs well on customers' corrugating equipment. "There is also uniform moisture" he adds. "That's important because it eliminates moisture streaks which can cause warping during box forming. Streaking can also make it more difficult for converters to bond corrugated during box manufacturing."