’s Purchase of Weyerhaeuser Packaging Mills Amplifies Need For Company to Reform Forestry Practices in the Southern US and Around the World
The March 17th announcement of ’s (NYSE: IP) $6 billion purchase of Weyerhaeuser Company’s (NYSE: WY) packaging and recycling mills marks the further expansion of IP’s influence over the world’s forests, including the special forests in the Southern US – the largest paper producing region in the world. With this purchase, IP extends its position as the largest producer of packaging in the country and one of the leaders worldwide. This announcement places even greater responsibility on the company to address the forest destruction associated with its production of paper packaging.
The number one paper product originating from Southern forests is packaging. Though IP is the clear leader when it comes to paper production in the Southern US, IP has consistently lagged behind other paper producers in the region such as Domtar, Potlatch Corp. and Bowater, Inc. when it comes to responsible forestry.
With the purchase of 72 packaging locations, 10 specialty-packaging plants with 6.3 million tons of annual capacity and 4 kraft bag and sack locations from Weyerhaeuser, IP continues its focus on producing paper packaging. The Weyerhaeuser mills that IP will purchase are spread out across the US and Mexico, including two packaging mills in the Southern US in Campti, Louisiana in Pine Hill, Alabama.
IP is the leading producer of paper in the Southern US, yet when it comes to responsible forestry, IP comes in last. IP’s long history of unsustainable forestry practices has scarred the Southern landscape for decades. Practices such as large-scale clearcutting, logging of endangered forests, intensive use of toxic chemicals in forest management and the conversion of natural forests to monoculture pine plantations have had a detrimental impact on the quality of life of local communities, wildlife habitat, water quality and our forests ability to store and sequester carbon to reduce the impact of global climate change.
IP’s prominent packaging mills in the Southeastern Swampland region along the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Forests, including the Riegelwood Mill in NC, the Franklin Mill in VA and the Augusta Mill in GA, have facilitated the ditching and draining of hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands to make room for industrial pine plantations to produce packaging products that are used once and thrown away. Some of the most unique and special places in the South, from the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia to the Green Swamp of North Carolina to the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee and Alabama have been irreparably harmed by the IP’s practices.
For over ten years, Dogwood Alliance and our broad-based network have called on IP to change these practices and join the effort to protect our local communities and forests in the region. IP’s expansion of its paper packaging production in the region and around the world through the purchase of these mills further amplifies the critical need to reform this paper giant through transforming the market demand for paper packaging.