WestRock to close Panama City mill

WestRock confirmed last week that it will permanently cease operations at its mill in Panama City, Florida, by June 6, 2022.

The mill produces containerboard, primarily heavyweight kraft, and fluff pulp, 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.

“A decision to close a facility and impact the lives of our employees is never easy to make,” said David Sewell, CEO, WestRock. “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.”

WestRock said in a statement that it is committed to improving its return on invested capital as well as maximizing the performance of its assets, and the Panama City mill would require significant capital investment to maintain and improve going forward. In addition, production of fluff pulp is not a priority in the company’s strategy to focus on higher value markets. By closing this mill, significant capital that would be required to keep the mill competitive in the future will be deployed to improve other key assets.

The Panama City mill employs approximately 450 people. The company said that all employees will receive severance and outplacement assistance.

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