Memphis, Tennessee-based International Paper (IP) has announced plans to invest approximately $300 million to convert its No. 15 paper machine at the Riverdale Mill in Selma, Alabama, from producing uncoated freesheet to instead make whitetop linerboard and containerboard. The conversion is targeted for completion by midyear 2019 and will add 450,000 tons of annual capacity, with flexibility to shift between containerboard products, says IP.
“Our customers expect us to support their growth, and this machine conversion will meet their needs,” says Tim Nicholls, IP senior vice president, industrial packaging, the Americas. “Our Industrial Packaging business continues to focus on our customers in strategic channels, including our box business, domestic and export containerboard and specialty grades.”
Nicholls says IP’s Industrial Packaging mill system allows the business to optimize product mix, increase service and reduce costs. “Our system runs most effectively when there is flexibility, and this conversion will also help us define a more streamlined and balanced system overall.”
Because of the machine conversion, the company will reduce its annual uncoated freesheet capacity by 235,000 tons. The remaining machine at the Riverdale Mill will continue to produce uncoated paper products for the communication paper markets.
“International Paper’s uncoated freesheet business remains a strategic part of the company, and we are well positioned to support current and future customer demand,” says Mike Amick Jr., IP senior vice president, paper, the Americas & India. “This investment proactively repositions Riverdale No. 15 to serve our growing packaging business, while enabling us to optimize our North American Papers business.”
On its website, IP refers to itself as “the largest user of recycled fiber in the United States, with 90 percent of our mills using some level of recovered fiber in the products they manufacture and three mills making products with 100 percent recovered fiber.”