In the Eure, the green reconversion of the “valley of rotten cabbage”

The VPK Packaging plant in Alizay (Eure), in 2015.

In the 1970s, a famous satirical weekly dubbed this little corner crossed by the Seine, between the meanders of Val-de-Reuil and Elbeuf, the “valley of rotten cabbage”. A clear allusion, if not poetic, to the olfactory annoyances that devastated the lives of the inhabitants of the neighboring town of Alizay (Eure) and even beyond, and that came from the textile pulp factory, then the paper factory, installed there since 1951.

In 2022, the water flowed under the Seine bridges and the site has changed a lot. The pestilential emanations disappeared, pushed by the bad wind of deindustrialization, taking with it, in 1980, the Alizay Industrial Cellulose Company, its factory, its tall chimney and its jobs. Beneath the village of Alizay, recognizable by its magnificent half-timbered Norman town hall, the industrial estate is undergoing a transformation after decades of hardship.

Like what happened at the site of a another emblematic litter bin, la Chapelle-Darblay, located about twenty kilometers away, various buyers have come over the years, tried to restart production and left. The latest, the Thai paper mill Double A, which produced reams to feed office printers. A paper as white as snow, made from a material that is nothing less than sustainable: wood sourced from eucalyptus plantations in Brazil or Southeast Asia and transported to Europe. Teleworking and everything digital have taken the best of business model of thai

in accordion

Again in difficulty, the site was bought in 2021 by VPK Packaging, a Belgian family group, created in 1935 and turned into a European packaging giant, with a turnover of 1,750 million euros and some seventy factories in twenty countries. The company, which is committed to preserving the 180 jobs at risk, has a project that is very much in keeping with the times: it will manufacture “corrugated paper” in Alizay, a basic material with which the essential Boxes for large distribution or the giants of online commerce. The Normandy plant will be the bridgehead for the manufacture of innovative boxes: thanks to their accordion design, they will make it possible, for example, to optimize the size and weight of the packages and to eliminate the wedging products, preventing the content from being damaged. A market that, unlike office paper, is constantly growing and offers great prospects.

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