Canton mill to close after company announces changes to operations in NC

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 9:48 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Pactiv Evergreen confirmed they are planning on closing their mill in Canton, North Carolina, as part of their efforts to restructure.

Officials said the mill, along with a converting facility in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, will end operations sometime before the end of June 2023.

“The mill closure, and the actions to close the mill, have sacrificed our soul,” said Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers.

Smathers says the town, as well as Haywood County, are now trying to support the workers. Smathers answered questions about the closing of the mill on March 29.

The Mayor of Canton held a Q&A Tuesday night where he answered questions about the future of the town

A joint information center has already been established to help with reemployment, job training, and mental health services.

“It’s very important to me that we find jobs for these workers if all possible that allow them not to leave their home. We cannot have a migration of workers and people out of Haywood County,” he said.

Terry Mease retired from the plant in 2014 after working for 43 years.

“It was a great shock to me. This mill has been here over 100 years and I’m third generation that retired from this paper mill in my family,” he said.

According to officials, these changes will eliminate around 1,300 positions. They added that the company will provide outplacement assistance and severance to impacted employees, consistent with Company policy and labor union agreements.

The company released the following statement shortly after the changes were announced.

“Pactiv Evergreen announced strategic actions to restructure its Beverage Merchandising segment and reorganize the company’s management structure. The company expects to close its Canton, NC mill and its converting facility in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, with operations at both facilities expected to end during the second quarter of 2023. At the same time, the company will continue to explore strategic alternatives for its Pine Bluff, AR mill and Waynesville, NC facility. In addition, the company plans to reorganize its management structure by combining the Beverage Merchandising and Food Merchandising businesses effective April 1, 2023.

We expect these strategic actions to position us to remain competitive in the liquid packaging market and gain additional synergies from the further integration of our businesses. These actions are consistent with our stated strategy of focusing on our core competency in converting to enhance and accelerate our position as the market-leading North American Food & Beverage packaging company.

Pactiv Evergreen assesses all changes to the business with considerable thought for our employees, customers, shareholders and communities, and do not take these decisions lightly. The company recognizes the impact this will have on our colleagues and is committed to supporting impacted employees throughout this transition. We will provide severance benefits and offer outplacement services and other support to help impacted employees pursue new opportunities.”

Beth Kelly, Director, Communications at Pactiv Evergreen

Filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed that company leaders sold some of the stock they had in Pactive Evergreen days before the changes were announced.

According to the filings, the leaders who sold shares included the Pactiv Evergreen’s President and CEO, Chief Legal Officer & Sec., Chief Operations Officer, and President of Beverage Merchandising. In total, they sold 58,788 shares for $11.30 each.

“Just hearing about this and seeing it is morally reprehensible. Again, I do not know if it’s legal or illegal but it’s cowardly, it’s disgusting. Our community deserves better. How many years and generations have people put into that mill, some of them giving their lives. And now we have to hear that the top is making money while they’ve wreaked economic disaster by closing this mill,” said Smathers.

In response to the filings, Pactiv Evergreen released the following statement.

“The sales that were reported in our SEC filings on Monday were sales automatically done by the Company to cover legally required tax withholding and were not discretionary sales made by the executives.

They were scheduled in advance.”

Beth Kelly, Director, Communications at Pactiv Evergreen