Paperboard Supplier Takes Run at Plastic

Jan. 4, 2022
One of America’s largest producers of fiber-based packaging is making a big bet on being able to take market share away from plastic.

One of America’s largest producers of fiber-based packaging is making a big bet on being able to take market share away from plastic.

Graphic Packaging Holding Co. has sunk $600 million into a new recycled-paperboard line in its plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. Due to start up in January, it will recycle corrugated shipping cases into paperboard.

The new line is the spearhead of Graphic’s effort to become more environmentally responsible. It has also moved several facilities in Louisiana under one roof and has put in a boiler that burns tree waste at a plant in Georgia.

Graphic is making a play to substitute paperboard for plastic in some food and beverage applications, such as a fiber-based yoke for six-packs of beverage cans to replace the ubiquitous plastic rings, and fiber-based microwavable meal trays.

The Kalamazoo line is the first new production line for paperboard in the U.S. in decades, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s a big, long-term bet, with the decision having been reached in 2019. At the time. CEO Michael Doss told the board of directors, “Not everyone is going to like this. Our industry has a track record of over-expanding and making poor capital allocations.”

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