Gävle Mill: The Result of Sweden’s Largest Industrial Relocation

A unique event in the history of this production facility is the massive move from Falun to Gävle in 1899, classified as Sweden’s largest industrial relocation. Today, Gävle Mill is a world-leading manufacturer of liquid packaging, but its history spans over 150 years, marked by continuous development, change, and contributions to industry, the environment, and society.

Origin and Relocation to Gävle

In the 1850s, Gävle was bustling with entrepreneurship and optimism for the future. The city’s leading entrepreneurs aimed to ship more goods through Gävle port. Therefore, the Korsnäs sawmill company was founded in Falun, a 100 km (62 miles) long railway was constructed, and the production of timber began. After 44 years, the decision was made for Sweden’s unparalleled industrial move – the sawmill was to be relocated to Gävle. In 1899, 2000 people embarked on the relocation journey with buildings and machinery in tow, initially stopping in Bomhus just south of Gävle. Here, an entire industrial community was established, characterized by unity, self-sufficiency, and hard work.

Sawmill to Paper Mill

While the sawmill primarily produced planks and boards, there was also an interest in utilizing waste. In 1910, a sulfite factory was built, followed in 1915 by another sulfate factory to refine the waste into pulp. In 1925, the mill entered paper production with its first paper machine, PM1, now located in Lahore, Pakistan and still in operation! In 1953, Sweden’s first ever kraft paper machine, PM2, started operating at Gävle Mill.

Journey to Carton Production

The 1960s marked the next major phase of change in the mill’s history – from low to high processing levels and from cyclical goods to high-quality niche products. In 1976, Gävle Mill began producing cartonboard, further diversifying its product portfolio. Between 1985 and 1989, the facility underwent extensive modernization costing 2.5 billion SEK, enhancing production capacity, and increasing the company’s competitiveness internationally. This modernization included the launch of the first continuous digester, PM4, and recovery boiler 4.

Gävle Mill was acquired by Billerud in 2012 and is now a global leader in the production of liquid cartons for beverages and food. The production facility is a significant employer in the Gävle area with nearly 700 employees.

PM4 in 1968
PM4 in 1968.

Sustainability and Community Contributions

In recent years, the mill has evolved with an increasing focus on sustainability. One crucial initiative was the inauguration of Bio boiler, also known as Bomhus Energy, in 2012. This investment has resulted in reduced environmental impact and increased use of renewable energy in production.

The mill’s importance to the local community is highlighted by its close collaboration with Gävle Energy. Through special technology, waste heat is extracted from the production process to create a source of thermal energy that contributes to heating the community through district heating. This has not only reduced the mill’s environmental impact but has also helped decrease the community’s dependence on fossil fuels for heating.