US-based corrugated packaging company Westrock has announced its plans to permanently shut down its paper mill in Tacoma, Washington DC, US.

The business is expected to conclude all related production work at the facility by 30 September this year.

WestRock said its decision to close the paper mill can be attributed to high operating costs alongside a requirement for significant capital investment.

This decision will further support WestRock’s plans to improve its returns on invested capital and efforts to maximise the overall performance of its assets.

The plant supports the production of kraft paper, white top liner, as well as bleached pulp.

It has a combined annual production capacity of approximately 510,000 tons (t).

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Following the site’s closure, the company said it plans to shift the majority of its kraft and white top liner products to its other mills in order to address the requirements of its customers in the North American region and international markets.

The closure will result in a reduction of pulp production capacity by approximately 60,000t, and of speciality grade paper by roughly 25,000t.

This move is expected to impact approximately 400 employees currently working at the Tacoma mill. 

WestRock assured that all of its employees at the site will receive severance and outplacement assistance, as per the company’s policy and its labour union agreements.

WestRock CEO David B Sewell said: “WestRock is working to optimise our operational footprint and consolidate production in order to improve our return on invested capital, and we have made the difficult decision to close the Tacoma mill as part of this effort.

“One of the most critical factors we consider when making the difficult decision to close a facility is the impact it will have on the lives of our team members, and we are committed to assisting our Tacoma team with exploring roles at other WestRock locations and nearby companies as well as providing outplacement assistance.”

Earlier in May, WestRock confirmed the closure of its paper mill in South Carolina, US, by 31 August this year.