New pulping equipment will produce recycled packaging papers from waste material previously sent to China, helping to solve a major environmental challenge while supporting local jobs
North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC) is excited to announce the arrival of a new state-of-the-art drum pulper that will help the company expand its production of lightweight recycled packaging papers and safeguard more than 400 mill jobs and support other indirect jobs in Cowlitz County.
The new pulper just arrived at the Port of Longview and will be moved this week to the NORPAC mill. The pulper and other mill infrastructure upgrades represent more than a $50 million capital investment that will expand Longview mill operations to transform wastepaper into lightweight recycled papers for corrugated boxes, displays, bags and various other packaging products.
"We're excited to reach a big milestone in our work to achieve our vision of opening new markets, providing low-carbon, recycled packaging papers and retaining our talented, innovative workforce," said NORPAC CEO Craig Anneberg. "This new machine is up to the tough job of keeping wastepaper out of landfills and turning it into new, recycled products – that's good for jobs and our environment. I'm also pleased NORPAC can support our local economic recovery in real-time with construction jobs that will make our new facility operational."
"It's great to see new construction jobs literally rolling into Cowlitz County," said Ted Sprague, Cowlitz Economic Development Council President. "The EDC was pleased to help connect financial resources in support of NORPAC's project that will put people to work and place Cowlitz County on the cutting edge of recycling sustainability."
After two years of constraining imports, in late 2020, China effectively banned the import of waste papers. This dramatic change in wastepaper markets has caused major disruption in the Pacific Northwest recycling system – resulting in paper that was traditionally recycled being sent to solid waste landfills. To help the state respond, NORPAC plans to recycle hundreds of thousands of metric tons per year of recovered wastepaper into recycled packaging papers, including linerboard, corrugated medium, bag grades, and specialty Kraft papers.
NORPAC began producing packaging papers in 2018 and has since refined its product offerings, process, and raw material sourcing to enable this expansion, which takes advantage of current wastepaper supplies while enhancing the mill's product diversity and agility in dynamic markets. As a result, NORPAC expects to consume substantial amounts of waste and mixed paper grades – effectively dealing with the environmental challenge and diverting this waste material from landfills.
When announcing the expansion in the packaging papers business and acquisition of the pulping equipment in August of 2019, NORPAC's move was widely heralded by elected leaders in Washington and Oregon. Here is what they had to say:
"Washington businesses are at the forefront of tackling big problems through innovation. Producing alternatives to single-use plastic packaging is not just about protecting our environment, but also about creating business opportunities and good-paying jobs. North Pacific Paper Company's continued commitment to Washington state shows that sustainability is an economic winner."
-Washington Governor Jay Inslee
"Increasing local capacity to process recyclable materials has the potential to benefit Southwest Washington, and NORPAC's expansion into recycled paper operations demonstrates an innovative path forward."
-Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler
"Today's good news from NORPAC about its expansion into recycling will have long-term benefits for the environment in our state and throughout the Northwest. This expansion of its recovered fiber business will ripple across the Columbia River by also helping Oregonians working at the company's Longview plant and our state's companies that do business with NORPAC."
-Senator Ron Wyden
"I applaud North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC) on their expansion, which will create good jobs and address an environmental challenge facing the Pacific Northwest. We shouldn't have to ship our recyclable paper and other materials across the ocean to be processed and recovered in China. The growth of the domestic recycling industry will benefit consumers who want to recycle more, businesses that want recycled paper products, and the environment."
-Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici
NORPAC's previous environmental innovations include sustainable Natural Choice Copy PaperTM, which a recent study found to have 90% less environmental impact than standard copy paper. For more information, visit www.norpacpaper.com.