G-P closing bleached board, particleboard ops: Other areas expanding
Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific is shutting down the bleached board operations at its Crossett, AR, facility as of October 2019. The decision followed an assessment of the mill’s ability to compete in the bleached board market. Included are the bleached board machines, the extrusion plant, woodyard, pulp mill and much of the energy complex.
In July, G-P will shut down one of the mill’s older tissue machines that does not support the long-term competitiveness of the tissue business but the mill will continue in the consumer tissue and towel business. About 530 jobs will be affected by these closures, as well as 25 business and sales jobs. About 500 employees will be retained to run those operations.
Until the assets are shut down in October, the mill will continue to operate in its current manufacturing configuration. G-P will discuss with workforce representatives on how the process will work for employees affected by the job reductions, including the potential to transfer to other G P locations. It will also begin working with its customers on transitioning their bleached board product supply.
Georgia-Pacific’s bleached board business, including supply to the Dixie® business, will be supported from the Naheola and Brewton, AL, mills and the St. Marys, GA, extrusion facility.
The company also said it will close two particleboard facilities in Hope, AR, and Monroeville, AL, over the next couple of months and will not rebuild its Thomson, GA, facility, which recently experienced a catastrophic fire. About 100 employees at each facility will be affected. The Diboll, TX, particleboard plant will remain in operation.
Meanwhile, G-P offered more encouraging news.
• The Bowling Green facility will get a near-$100-million investment to expand production of Dixie® plates and bowls; included will be a new 80,000-sq.- ft. building, a new printer and new plate forming presses. Shipping facilities will be expanded. The plant produces about a quarter of all G-P’s paper plate and bowl output. Over 50 new full-time jobs will bring staffing to about 200 people. The plant will continue to operate at full capacity during construction, which has already begun and is expected to be finished in the first half of 2020. G-P has two Kentucky facilities — at Bowling Green and Lexington – and since 2013has invested $66 million in those operations.
• At its Naheola, AL, mill, G-P will invest $120 million for a new tissue machine and roll storage building to support the retail bath tissue business. The new machine will replace two older ones but it will increase capacity and support new converting lines currently being started up. The investments continue the modernization at Naheola which includes on-going construction of a new biomass boiler and woodyard.
Engineering and related work has begun; start-up is scheduled for 2020. Naheola currently employs more than 900 people and produces retail bath tissue and paper towels. It also makes bleached paperboard which is both sold on the market and used to make Dixie plates, cups and bowls. In the past five years, capital investment at Naheola has totaled over $500 million and G-P’s statewide investments have totaled about $1.6 billion.