13 June 2022. Smurfit Kappa has resumed some operations at a packaging plant in central England after a large fire ripped through the facility overnight, according to the local fire service.
West Midlands Fire Service said more than 100 firefighters from across the region around Birmingham had made progress containing the blaze that they were alerted to on Sunday evening. It said there were no reports of any casualties.
The fire was declared a major incident after 8,000 tonnes of compressed cardboard caught fire. Pictures and drone footage posted by the fire service online showed bales of cardboard on fire across a large area of the site.
The fire service said its investigators would begin working on Monday to try to establish how the blaze started.
Smurfit Kappa, Europe’s largest paper packaging producer, had no immediate comment.
Its Birmingham plant is one of two paper mills it operates in the UK and it produces 500-700 tonnes of packaging paper every day, which is later converted into cardboard boxes.
The Irish company has the capacity to produce 8.3m tonnes of paper and board a year globally and handle more than 7m tonnes of recovered product for recycling, its website says.
Packaging companies have faced a surge in demand for their products over the last two years, first due to the boom in e-commerce at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and then from the broader recovery that followed the reopening of economies.
Smurfit said earlier this year that its product range remained effectively sold out in almost all of the 36 countries in which it operates.
Smurfit shares were 2.2% in early trading on Monday. The wider FTSE 100 index was down 0.9%.
The fire service said that at the height of the blaze it had more than 30 fire appliances in use, including two aerial hydraulic platforms, multiple fire engines, a high volume water pumping unit, and a drone.
It said it expected to be in attendance in some capacity for at least the next 48 hours.