Graphic Packaging International’s plan to invest $600 million to build a new paperboard machine in Kalamazoo is at the heart of our company’s efforts to reduce our environmental impact and be a responsible corporate citizen.
Graphic Packaging has long recognized we are witnessing unparalleled changes in our industry and across our planet because of climate change and believes every company has a responsibility to minimize its impact on the environment. Consumers are more frequently insisting that products — and the packaging that protects them — come from a company they trust and which reflects their values.
We understand the raw material used for our product is just one component of our overall production process. That’s why we developed our first sustainability report way back in 2008. We set some aggressive goals back then and have been making progress toward reducing our carbon footprint every year since.
Our goal, outlined in our Vision 2025 plan, is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 15%, water usage by 15% and energy consumption by 15% companywide. We had all these goals in mind as we developed our plan for Kalamazoo, where we turn recycled paper and boxes into packaging for food, tissue and other products consumers rely on every day.
We expect modernizing our Kalamazoo operations will account for 4% of our company’s greenhouse gas reduction target, making it an essential part of our overall sustainability plan.
While our production capacity will increase in Kalamazoo, we anticipate our North American operations will remain capacity-neutral unless market conditions change. We are in the process of decommissioning older, recycled paper machines and will consolidate that production capacity to the new, more efficient state-of-the-art paper machine at the Kalamazoo mill.
The project is expected to increase the manufacturing output of our Kalamazoo operations by more than 70% and consolidate manufacturing of approximately 500,000 tons of coated recycled paperboard (CRB) from three Graphic Packaging CRB paper machines to one state-of-the-art machine.
Based on our initial estimates, this new world-class CRB machine will reduce our greenhouse gases emissions by nearly 20%, reduce water usage by 300 million gallons annually and reduce purchased energy by 18% across our CRB manufacturing platform in North America. That means that our cereal and tissue boxes will have a lower environmental profile after the paper machine is fully commercial. The Kalamazoo community will be a center of recycling in North America with over 40% of the recycled paperboard for the North American market being manufactured at the Kalamazoo mill.
Construction on this project began last summer, and we are on track for the new mill to be fully operational before the end of the year. This investment is one of the largest in our company’s history and will solidify our position as a global leader in the CRB paperboard packaging industry, as we provide more sustainable products in the most cost-efficient manner possible. We are hopeful the community will embrace this project as a positive step toward a better future together.