WestRock to reconfigure North Charleston paper mill and cut 260 jobs

10 September 2019 (Last Updated September 10th, 2019 11:34)

Paper and packaging solutions firm WestRock has revealed plans to reconfigure its paper mill in North Charleston, South Carolina, US.

Paper and packaging solutions firm WestRock has revealed plans to reconfigure its paper mill in North Charleston, South Carolina, US.

The company expects the move to enhance the operational efficiency and long-term competitiveness of the facility.

As part of the reconfiguration, around 260 employees working at the paper mill are expected to lose their jobs over a five-month period, beginning in January 2020.

One of the three paper machines at the mill and associated physical infrastructure will be permanently closed. This will result in a reduction of approximately 288,000t of linerboard capacity.

Following the process, the facility will have a total of approximately 605,000t annual production capacity. The mill will produce three grades of paper, including kraft linerboard, KraftPak and DuraSorb.

KraftPak is an unbleached folding carton kraft paper and DuraSorb is a saturating kraft paper for decorative laminate and industrial-end purposes.

WestRock chief executive officer Steve Voorhees said: “The actions that we are taking at our North Charleston mill will substantially improve the long-term competitiveness of the mill by reducing our on-going operating costs and capital needs, and focusing more than half of the mill’s production on the high-value differentiated DuraSorb and KraftPak products.

“Reducing the production of linerboard at this mill will help balance our supply with customer demand across our system.”

WestRock expects its annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to increase by approximately $40m as a result of the reconfiguration, which is anticipated to decrease operating costs.

Voorhees added: “We understand that this reconfiguration will impact our employees, their families and the community.

“Our teams are working to provide support and resources to our employees and their families, as we move forward.”

In March, WestRock acquired automated packaging machinery firm Linkx Packaging Systems for an undisclosed amount.