May 2, 2023 - Cascades today announced that it has produced its first roll of 100% recycled containerboard at its Bear Island mill in Ashland, Virginia.
Cascades acquired the Bear Island mill from White Birch Paper in July 2018 for $34.2 million. In October of 2020, Cascades announced plans to convert the mill's idled newsprint machine to the production of containerboard (linerboard and medium grades).
The repurposed machine now has the capacity to produce 465,000 short tons of lightweight, high-quality, 100% recycled containerboard.
According to Cascades, the Bear Island mill is equipped to perform within the top quartile of its industry and will strengthen the operational flexibility, geographic footprint, and competitiveness of Cascades' Containerboard platform.
The project created 700 jobs in the region during the construction phase, and 180 permanent jobs with the onset of commercial production.
"After the commissioning of the Greenpac mill nearly 10 years ago, the start-up of Bear Island marks another historic milestone in the strategic modernization of our mill network," said Mario Plourde, President and CEO of Cascades. "More than ever, Cascades has modern and competitive assets that will allow us to pursue long term growth in packaging on a North American scale."
Charles Malo, President and Chief Operating Officer of Cascades Containerboard Packaging, commented, "Cascades would like to thank all its employees and partners who made this project possible, a feat made even more challenging given the difficult global context of supply chain issues. This project was the second largest in Cascades' history, and we are very proud to have successfully converted this plant into a state-of-the-art mill that will allow Cascades to grow our market share and enhance service and our portfolio of sustainable solutions for our customers."
The Bear Island mill is now entering the ramp-up phase of the machine and will gradually increase its production to reach full capacity. An official inauguration will be held in the coming months.
Cascades is also announcing the permanent shutdown of paper machine number 2 at its Niagara Falls mill in New York, which had been temporarily shut down since November 2022. The machine, amongst the oldest in the Containerboard platform, has a production capacity of 90,000 short tons per year, and would require investments for it to remain competitive.
The permanent closure of this machine will impact approximately 40 positions. The majority of these positions are currently vacant or will be subject to attrition in order to minimize the impact on the employees.
Founded in 1964, Cascades (TSX: CAS) offers sustainable, innovative and value-added packaging, hygiene and recovery solutions.
SOURCE: Cascades Inc.
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