Billerud's Decision on Escanaba Mill Conversion

Discover the latest news on Billerud's North America Strategy...

Current Escanaba Mill, photo from:

Billerud, which purchased Verso Corporation and its North American paper mills in 2022, has decided not to move forward with the expansion and conversion of its Escanaba mill in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The project would have involved a conversion to containerboard manufacturing.

The Swedish company’s board of directors announced the change in strategy after “in-depth feasibility studies, evaluations, and supplier discussions according to the board’s announcement.

“During the process, conditions have changed and the cost of equipment and services necessary to transform the operations have greatly increased. Instead, we will pursue a higher returning and more moderate investment strategy for our North American mills going forward,” says Ivar Vatne, President and CEO of Billerud.

Vatne offered some reassurance regarding Billerud’s future in North America:

“Billerud North America operations are an integral part of Billerud and we remain committed to the North American market. Since the acquisition in 2022, the organizational fit, access to cost-competitive fiber, and the financial performance of the region have exceeded our expectations. The long-term market outlook for paper and packaging material in North America is promising,” Vatne said.

There was a slight increase in packaging paper manufacturing capacity during 2023, according to the American Forest and Paper Association. However, all of the 2.1 million tons of capacity expansion will use recycled materials, while 1.7 million tons of decreased capacity used wood fiber, according to the association’s survey results.

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