Baled OCC for recycling.

The move will result in around 300 employees being laid off. | Joi54/Shutterstock

The Packaging Corporation of America is idling a mill that handles OCC, after adding recycled fiber processing capability in 2021. 

According to local paper the Tri-City Herald, Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) plans to idle its Wallula, Wash. mill until later this year. In a statement to that paper, the Lake Forest, Ill.-based company cited economic conditions as its reasoning. 

About 300 employees are expected to be laid off as a result. 

In 2019, PCA announced the decision to add 350,000 tons per year of OCC pulping capacity at the Wallula, Wash. mill. At the time, the mill produced predominantly virgin linerboard and medium for containerboard production. The OCC line became operational in February 2021. 

In 2019, the company reported that between 15% and 18% of its fiber in containerboard mills comes from OCC. 

Its 2021 Responsibility Report stated that about 8%, or 1.2 million tons, of its overall fiber consumed in 2021 was recycled. About 61% of that recycled fiber was post-consumer.

The average recycled content of PCA’s containerboard was 23% in 2021, according to the report, with 14% of that being post-consumer and 9% post-industrial. 

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