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Graphic Packaging CEO Announces Plans to Build $1 Billion Greenfield CRB Mill in Waco, Texas

Graphic Packaging Kalamazoo CRB "We will be leveraging our unique expertise in CRB production from the recent K2 investment and our leading North American mill system to build a new CRB mill in Waco, Texas." – Mike Doss.

Feb. 9, 2023 - Graphic Packaging's President and CEO, Mike Doss, on Feb. 7 announced plans to build a greenfield CRB (coated recycled board) pulp and paper mill in Waco, Texas. In addition to the paper mill, the pulp mill will feature advanced pulping technology that will include the capability of repulping paper cups.

According to Graphic Packaging, an investment of approximately $1 billion over three years will be internally funded with operating cash flow.

"We will be leveraging our unique expertise in CRB production from the recent K2 investment and our leading North American mill system to build a new CRB mill in Waco, Texas," Doss said during Graphic Packaging's Q4 and full-year 2022 earnings call.

Editor's note: K2 refers to Graphic Packaging's new CRB machine in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which started-up in the fourth quarter of 2022.

"From a timing perspective, we expect to start construction this quarter and begin commissioning the machine by the end of 2025 with production ramping up in early 2026. Our decision to build this mill shortly after K2 allows us to leverage key learnings from that process, both internally with our external partners, which gives us added confidence in our ability to meet the projected timeline and quickly ramp-up production on the new recycled paperboard machine," Doss explained.

Doss noted that Waco is a prime location for the mill due to its location within the Texas Triangle.

"In addition to the efficiency of the mill itself, we are very excited to have secured a location that is ideally positioned within a growing economic center. The city of Waco is situated in the Texas Triangle. Our new mill will be strategically located within 200 miles of approximately 80% of the population in Texas providing easy access to a strong existing recycled fiber basket. Waco also has existing infrastructure to support a mill as well as advantaged logistics from a rail and roadway perspective to supply our packaging facilities and our customers," he said.

Doss also pointed out that the Waco mill will feature advanced pulping technology that will allow it to process paperboard waste and recovered paper cup stock.

"We will be increasing circularity of our system through an enhanced drum pulper investment. This investment increases our ability to clean and separate a broader range of secondary fibers. Today, a large percentage of our paperboard waste that we cannot recycle is exported.

"Our Waco mill is designed to enable the recycling a 100% of our own internally generated paperboard side rolls and waste. We plan to capture the value of that fiber as well as reduce the environmental impact of shipping the fiber offshore for processing. We are estimating around 200,000 tons of side rolls and waste will be processed at the Waco mill versus purchasing external secondary fiber as we do today. This will also significantly enhance the security of the secondary fiber supply.

"This machine also increases our paper cup recycling ability. The drum pulper has the capacity to process up to 15 million paper cups per day. To take advantage of this increased recycling capacity, we have launched teams to engage with our customers and recycling partners to increase the collection rate of paper cups to further support recovery and a more circular economy," Doss said.

Graphic Packaging Holding Company (NYSE: GPK), headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, operates on a global basis, is one of the largest producers of folding cartons and fiber-based foodservice products in the United States and Europe, and holds leading market positions in coated recycled paperboard, coated unbleached kraft paperboard and solid bleached sulfate paperboard.

SOURCE: Graphic Packaging Holding Company

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