An $83 million (£66.37) investment has been announced by Sonoco to strengthen its uncoated recycled paperboard mill system in the United States.
The majority of the investment will go on transforming its mill in Hartsville, South Carolina from a corrugated medium machine (paper machine 10) to a state-of-the-art uncoated recycled paperboard (URB) machine with annual production of 180,000 tonnes.
It will be designed with the aim of being the largest and lowest cost URB machine in the world.
As a result of this conversion, Sonoco will be exiting the corrugated medium market by the end of 2021. It will be one of the world’s leading producers of URB with 12 mills and 20 machines in US and Canada.
The conversion will start with the development of a new recycled fibre stock prep system, which will allow the Hartsville mill to use a wide range of low cost mixed paper and OCC.
Sonoco president and chief executive Howard Coker said: “We are calling this investment Project Horizon, as we will be creating a much brighter future for our domestic URB mill system while resolving the volatility we have experienced as an independent producer of corrugated medium from our Number 10 machines.
“These investments will drive significant operating cost savings, ensure the long-term viability of our Hartsville paper mill complex and place our US and Canada URB mill system into the top quartile of performance from a cost perspective.”
Sonaco has also announced that it is permanently closing its No 3 URB paper machine in Hartsville and its Trent Valley mill in Ontario, Canada due to market conditions.