© David Burke | Dreamstime.com

Virginia recycled newsprint mill idles indefinitely

White Birch Paper Co., a Connecticut-based company that owns the Bear Island recycled newsprint mill in northern Hanover County, Virginia, has announced it plans to idle the papermaking plant indefinitely, according to a report in the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch.

The company says it will supply customers, which include the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other Virginia publications, from its three other paper mills in Canada, the newspaper reports.

The Bear Island mill produces about 240,000 metric tons of newsprint annually. After opening in 1979, the mill underwent an expansion in 1994 that added a recycling plant that turns old newspapers into pulp to make newsprint, the newspaper reports.

White Birch Paper says the 165 employees of its Bear Island mill were notified May 17 of the pending closure. The final date of operations was unknown as of press time.

Employees will be given severance payments as well as job placement services, a company spokesman told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

White Birch Paper says it blames the mill’s closure on “difficult market pricing, challenging cost fundamentals and declining demand.”

Christopher Brant, the company’s president and chief operating officer, says in a statement, “It is truly unfortunate to have to make this difficult decision, and we will be forever grateful to the employees at Bear Island for their tireless efforts and service.”

White Birch says it also will explore “alternative industrial options” for the site, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The company did not indicate whether it plans to sell the plant, which sits on 250 acres.