CHARLOTTE – International Paper, which supplies about 20% of all paper in the United States, said Wednesday it would close one of its two pulp machines in Riegelwood, about 20 miles north of Wilmington, and lay off 200 workers by the end of the year.
The Riegelwood facility employs a total of 650 workers. It produces about 2,000 tons of fluff pulp and market-grade softwood pulp each day. Fluff pulp is used in products such as diapers.
[The layoffs are the latest to hit North Carolina’s furniture, paper, textile and meat manufacturers. According to layoff notices filed with the state Department of Commerce, closings and layoffs are double those reported in 2022 with 90 reports and nearly 8,000 workers affected.]
The employees are represented by PACE, or Paper Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union Local 2-738, part of the United Steelworkers union, which had no comment on the announcement.
International Paper, which is based in Memphis, said the closing, along with the closing of its container board mill in Orange, Texas, and ending production at a pulp machine in Pensacola, Florida, would result in about 900 workers losing their jobs.
“Decisions like these are extremely difficult, because of the impact on our employees, their families and the communities in which we operate,” said CEO Mark Sutton in a statement. “We are grateful to our employees in Orange, Riegelwood and Pensacola for their significant contributions to the company over the years.”