WestRock to build new US$140M “state-of-the-art” corrugated box plant in Wisconsin
24 Jan 2024 — WestRock has announced plans to construct a cutting-edge corrugated box plant in Wisconsin, US, as part of its strategic initiative to meet the growing demand in the Great Lakes region. The company aims to enhance production capabilities, reduce manufacturing costs and reinforce its position as “the supplier of choice.”
The new facility, with an estimated construction cost of US$140 million, is anticipated to replace the existing plant in North Chicago upon completion. WestRock expects the investment to be partially offset by property sales associated with the transition.
David B. Sewell, CEO of WestRock, details the company is expanding its presence in an area of “critical demand” with confidence in the production initiatives. “Investing in a new state-of-the-art corrugated converting facility elevates our production capabilities and better supports our end market strategy and margin improvement targets,” he says.
WestRock says the forthcoming plant is projected to bring a multitude of benefits, including cost efficiency, sustainability, automation, digitalization and market expansion.
Construction of the facility is scheduled to commence in 2024, with an expected completion date in 2025. The move is seen as a testament to WestRock’s commitment to meeting the evolving needs of its customers while embracing technological advancements and sustainable practices in the packaging industry.The Wisconsin corrugated converting facility is expected to bolster WestRock’s production capabilities in the Great Lakes region.
“The Great Lakes corrugated plant will increase production capacity to meet the growing demand in the area. WestRock’s planned closure of an existing plant in North Chicago will be good for the environment because the new plant will improve sustainability through reduced energy consumption and new technology when it opens in 2025,” packaging industry analyst Neil Farmer tells Packaging Insights.
“The new plant will also reduce manufacturing costs and waste generation, enhancing the company’s environmental performance and further helping sustainability in the area. The plant will meet the growing demand for corrugated boxes, expanding WestRock’s presence in the Great Lakes region. It looks like a positive move to me.”
Last September, WestRock agreed to merge with paper and corrugated packaging giant Smurfit Kappa, creating one of the world’s largest packaging corporations. Rabobank market analysts expect the merger will advance circularity-recyclability and decarbonization standards across America.
With the new corrugated box facility designed to support reduced manufacturing costs, WestRock is streamlining the overall manufacturing cost profile.
The paper and packaging giant aims to improve its sustainability efforts through reduced energy consumption and the integration of new technology in the production process. State-of-the-art automation will enhance quality and customer satisfaction, positioning WestRock at the forefront of innovation in the industry.
The facility will also bolster digital capabilities, providing real-time data to improve decision-making processes and minimize unplanned downtime. Moreover, the strategic location in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, will enable WestRock to serve key end markets in the Great Lakes region, encompassing retail, distribution, processed food, industrial and protein businesses.
By Radhika Sikaria
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