US – American corrugated packaging company WestRock has announced plans to permanently close the corrugated medium manufacturing operations at its St. Paul, Minnesota, recycled paper mill.

The plan is in line with the company’s commitment to improving returns on invested capital and maximizing the performance of its assets.

WestRock said the corrugated medium machinery at its St Paul location would require ‘significant’ investment to maintain and improve operations in the future.

The closure is expected to cause around 130 jobs to be cut at the St Paul site. All affected employees will be entitled to severance and outplacement assistance under the company’s policy and labor union agreements.

WestRock said that the decision will reduce its annual corrugated medium production capacity by 200,000 tons. It is not expected to affect coated recycled board production at the location.

“Shutting down operations and impacting the lives of our employees is a difficult decision to make,” WestRock CEO David B. Sewell said in a statement.

“As we implement our plans to close the corrugated medium operations in St. Paul, we are incredibly appreciative of the many contributions this team has made.

“We plan to assist these team members in exploring roles at other WestRock locations and with outplacement services.”

The Atlanta-based containerboard and packaging producer says the production of the coated recycled board at the St. Paul facility will remain in operation.

Based in Georgia, WestRock operates a network of more than 320 manufacturing facilities, design centers, research labs and sales offices worldwide.

The company supplies sustainable paper and packaging solutions to customers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

This announcement follows a similar shutdown by the company back in June when Westrock permanently ceased operations at its Panama City, Florida, containerboard mill, citing the requirement of significant capital investment in that facility, too.

The mill produced 645,000 tons of primarily heavyweight kraft and fluff pulp, and the company said at the time it announced the closure that the production of fluff pulp is not a priority in the company’s strategy to focus on higher-value markets.

WestRock added that the closure of the Panama City mill would provide significant capital that would be “deployed to improve other key assets.”

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