Veolia snaps up Chapelle Darblay newsprint mill from UPM following local intervention


Waste management company Veolia has taken over the Chapelle Darblay newsprint mill from UPM after the local municipality stepped in to advance the sale.

In 2020, UPM had permanently ceased production at the mill, then in October 2021 agreed to sell the site to a consortium made up of Samfi and Paprec France SAS.


However, in February 2022, the Rouen Normandy Metropolis exercised its right of first refusal under French law to maintain recycling activity at the site.

With the assistance of 80 other metropolitan mayors, French parliamentarians and President Macron, Chapelle Darblay was sold by UPM to the municipality.

But on the same day the property and assets of the site were signed over to Veolia.

Rouen Normandy Metropolis president and Rouen mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol said: “This is a historic decision for ecology, the circular economy and reindustrialisation in France. And this is happening in the Rouen conurbation.

“In October 2021, the owner of Chapelle Darblay, UPM, intended to sell the factory to a buyer whose project would have led to the elimination of the recycling activity and in situ treatment of paper and cardboard.

“We then activated our right of first refusal, as permitted by French law, with a view to selling the site to a buyer capable of preserving and developing know-how in the field of the circular economy.

“Today we signed the transfer of ownership and assets of the Chapelle Darblay plant to Veolia. This is the first time that a community has pre-empted a site of this size with its production assets. On the same day, we bought and resold, in this case to the Veolia Group.”

The cost of the acquisition is understood to have cost €9.6 million (£8.06 million) with the Rouen Normandy Metropolis incurring fees of around €100,000 (£84,000).

Previously, the plant was capable of handling 480,000 tonnes of material per year, with much of this coming from Paris and its environs.

Veolia intends to work with Fiber Excellence to convert the mill into corrugated case material (CCM) production with a capacity of 400,000 tonnes.

It will provide the collection and sorting of the fibre, as well as biomass boiler expertise, while Fiber Excellence responsible for the production and marketing of the CCM.

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