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Graphic Packaging plans $41 million West Monroe boxboard mill upgrade

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Graphic Packaging plans $41 million West Monroe boxboard mill upgrade

August 22, 2014 - 11:33

OAKLAND, CA, Aug. 22, 2014 (PPI Pulp & Paper Week) -Graphic Packaging will invest $41.5 million in its West Monroe, LA, unbleached kraft paperboard mill to upgrade production machinery. The mill produces boxboard for beverage carrier and folding carton, and with two converting facilities nearby employs a total 1,340 workers.

The new investment will include an expansion of the mill's fiber storage capacity and will also upgrade the dryer section, coater and stock cleaning areas of the paper mill. The investment is expected to reduce the site's environmental footprint, including improvements in the handling of solid waste.

The West Monroe mill has total capacity of 902,000 tons/yr of kraft paperboard on four machines, including beverage carrier, folding carton, corrugating medium, and kraft paper. The mill consumes about 1.3 million tons/yr of woodfiber and 146,000 tons/yr of recovered paper furnish. The company had permanently closed a 100,000 tons/yr boxboard machine at the mill in 2008.

The mill project follows an $8.6 million enhancement of consumer carton production in West Monroe in June 2012 that quadrupled container production and introduced innovative packaging for beverage product lines that saved 15,000 tons of paper annually and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 32%.

"I am delighted Graphic Packaging International and Louisiana Economic Development have partnered to bring about this investment in our West Monroe Mill operations," said company VP and resident manager Tony Hobson in an Aug. 19 press release. "We weighed many factors in our decision to further invest in the West Monroe Mill. The state's pro-business environment and the exceptional workforce made a significant impact. The partnership between Graphic Packaging International and Louisiana is an enduring example of how to attract, retain and grow business."

LED began working with Graphic Packaging on the latest expansion project in February 2014. To secure the project, LED offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a $720,000 Modernization Tax Credit, to be claimed over five years. Graphic Packaging also is expected to utilize the state's Industrial Tax Exemption Program.

The company separately said it plans to spend $185-200 million in capital projects in 2014 focused on cost reductions such as fiber, water and chemicals.

Recent capital projects include $15 million for a new curtain coater and other equipment at its Kalamazoo, MI, coated recycled paperboard mill and a $140 million biomass boiler project at its kraft paperboard mill in Macon, GA. The company invested $12 million at its Carol Stream, IL, converting plant targeted toward pasta packaging, making it the world's largest windowing packaging plant.

The company in May began an $8.9 million investment in new machinery at its Lumberton, NC, folding carton plant and in April gained a tax credit for an expansion of its carton plant in Marion, OH.