WestRock to close Florida mill

Panama City, Florida, mill had made kraft board from virgin fiber.

Atlanta-based WestRock Co. has announced it will permanently cease operations at its mill in Panama City, Florida, by early June of this year. A 2018 report on Florida paper mills prepared by Atlanta-based Moore & Associates characterized the mill at that time as being “virgin-fiber based.”

The mill produces containerboard—primarily heavyweight kraft—and fluff pulp, according to WestRock, with a combined annual capacity of 645,000 tons. “Select grades of containerboard currently produced at the mill will be manufactured at other WestRock facilities,” the company says.

David B. Sewell, CEO of WestRock, says of the closing, “As we implement our plans to close the Panama City mill, we do so with great appreciation for the many contributions of the team there. We are committed to assisting our Panama City team with exploring roles at other WestRock locations and outplacement assistance.” The Panama City mill employs approximately 450 people.

The mill in Panama City would require significant capital investment to maintain and improve going forward, WestRock says. In addition, production of fluff pulp is “not a priority in the company’s strategy to focus on higher value markets,” the company says.

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