A broader look at the state's paper industry

Appleton Paper

APPLETON (WLUK) -- While Green Bay Packaging is expanding, other paper mills have done the opposite.

The state lost about one-third of its mills over the past two decades.

Across the state, there's an uptick of shuttered paper mills.

Jeff Landin, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council, said it's partly due to lower demand.

"We make very little printing and writing paper; that’s a declining market. We don't make a lot of coating paper, those are papers in magazines and advertisements," Landin said.

You may have seen some of that in the Appleton Coated issue when it went through receivership last year. Landin said the mill made coated paper, which is a declining market.

However, Landin told FOX 11 that 90 percent of the state's paper industry, including Green Bay Packaging, makes high-demand products such as tissue, specialty papers and packaging.

"The online retail market is booming and there’s a lot of boxes that need to be made for that," said Landin. "A lot of packaging paper and a lot of mills making brown packaging papers are growing."

Landin said old and inefficient mills can also result in closure, which likely won't happen with the new Green Bay Packaging mill.

"They decided they can modernize it, make it bigger, faster, more efficient, makes sense to build a new mill," Landin said.

"What you're showing with the design and function here, is it’s not only environmentally sustainable, it is economically sustainable; the two can go hand-in-hand," said Gov. Scott Walker, referring to Green Bay Packaging.

Walker said the new Green Bay mill will also attract employees and preserve jobs.

"They put in state-of-the-art equipment to invest in their employees to continue to be at the forefront in the papermaking industry here in the state, around the nation, around the globe," Walker said.

And despite the loss of paper mills over the years, Landin said 30,000 people are still employed in the state's paper industry.

According to the Paper Council, the state once had 52 paper mills, but now it's down to 35.

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