International Paper announces closure of Southeast Texas mill

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

International Paper announced Wednesday a series of closing company actions, which includes permanently closing its mill in Orange.

Chairman and CEO Mark Sutton said decisions like these are extremely difficult, because of the impact on employees, their families and the communities in which they operate.

“We are grateful to our employees in Orange, Riegelwood and Pensacola for their significant contributions to the company over the years,” Sutton added in a company news release. “We are committed to providing severance benefits, outplacement assistance and more to help employees during this time.”

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The permanent closure of the Orange mill reduces the company’s containerboard capacity by approximately 800,000 tons.

The company’s remaining containerboard mill system in North America includes 17 mills with an annual production capability of 13MM tons.

The company expects the Orange mill and the #20 machine in Riegelwood, N.C., to cease production by the end of the year.

“We believe strongly in the attractive, long-term fundamentals of our businesses and these actions further strengthen our competitive platform,” Sutton said. “Our optimized mill system, with its broad capabilities, gives us the flexibility to meet our customers’ needs today and in the future.”

The company is permanently closing its containerboard mill in Orange and is permanently ceasing production on its pulp machines – the #20 machine in Riegelwood, N.C., and the #4 machine in Pensacola, Fla.

In total, approximately 900 positions will be impacted.

The machine in Pensacola is idled and is not resuming production.

The local mill is located at 812 Owens Illinois Road in Orange.

Surprise news

The update from International Paper came as a surprise to many, as the company recently donated money to be used for the Bill Tennison Basketball Tournament for the 2023 year.

Orangefield High School Basketball thanked International Paper for the generosity and support to help make the tournament a success.

International Paper has donated money to various career and technical programs at Orangefield High School.

Recent bad news

Less than two weeks ago, INVISTA announced it is shutting down production at its Orange facility.

INVISTA operates its facility at 3055 FM 1006 in Orange.

Francis Murphy, INVISTA president and CEO, said they appreciate the diligent and innovative work of employees at the Orange site over the years.

“Unfortunately, lower than anticipated growth and an increase in global supply led to this difficult decision,” a company statement read Oct. 5.

The site has begin the shutdown of the adiponitrile production unit and expects to cease production of hexamethylene diamine in mid-2024, according to information from INVISTA.

Approximately 240 of the site’s 300 roles will be eliminated by the end of 2024.

All impacted employees will be eligible for severance benefits.