Lake Forest, Illinois based Packaging Corp. of America (PCA) has announced plans to launch a three-year, $440 million project to permanently convert a paper machine at its mill in Clarke County, Alabama, to produce linerboard used for corrugated packaging.
PCA announced that it discontinued the production of uncoated freesheet, used for copy paper and other applications, on its No. 3 paper machine at the Jackson mill in late 2020. After a temporary switch to produce linerboard, PCA is now making preparations to convert the mill’s paper machine into a 700,000-ton-per-year high-performance, virgin kraft linerboard machine in a phased approach over the next 36 months.
PCA said key elements in the conversion project include the installation of an OCC plant for recycling old corrugated containers and various pulp mill modifications. In addition, modifications and upgrades will be made to critical sections of the paper machine.
PCA Chairman and CEO Mark Kowlzan said the project will enable the company to meet strong packaging demand and to optimize the Alabama mill’s profitability and viability. The capital cost of the conversion is expected to be approximately $440 million.
“We are appreciative of the continued support from the State of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Commerce, the City of Jackson and Clarke County to help us continue providing quality jobs and a positive economic impact in the Jackson community,” Kowlzan said.
Governor Kay Ivey said the project represents a positive development for the Jackson mill, a major industrial employer with more than 500 workers.
“Packaging Corp. of America’s reinvestment in its Jackson manufacturing facility will solidify the plant’s future by enhancing its competitiveness,” Governor Ivey said. “This decision underlines the company’s confidence in its Alabama operation while also preserving jobs and safeguarding local education tax dollars. It’s a win for the company, the community and the state.”
Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said PCA’s project will provide a long-term economic boost to Jackson, a city with a population of around 5,300. “We’re committed to helping existing businesses grow and thrive in Alabama, and the impact of a major investment is always magnified when in happens in rural communities,” Secretary Canfield said. “With this project, PCA is positioning its Jackson mill for the future, which will benefit the city and the region for years to come.”
PCA’s Packaging segment includes six containerboard mills and 90 converting operations. In 2019, PCA produced about 4.2 million tons of containerboard and shipped about 59.4 billion square-feet (BSF) of corrugated products.