The Rotary Club of Bainbridge gathered at the Kirbo Center on Tuesday for their regular meeting. The guest speaker for the day was RaSarah Johnson, Georgia-Pacific’s public affairs manager for their Cedar Springs containerboard mill.
“Just for the Cedar Springs mill, we make paper. We manufacture linerboard and medium. Johnson explained that because Georgia-Pacific was purchased by Koch Industries, the Cedar Springs plant is only part of a larger enterprise. “We have different types of products, such as, we make diapers, paints, we make boxes, paper bags. There are many different industries in Koch.
According to Johnson, the Cedar Springs mill produces between 2,500 and 3,000 tons of paper a day, enough to expand to Maine. She then reviewed the history of the facility, from its founding in 1957 as Southern Land and Timber Corporation, through its mergers and acquisitions over the years, culminating in the acquisition of its parent company. Georgia-Pacific by Koch Industries in 2005.
According to Johnson, the facility manages approximately 4,000 acres of timber around the mill, which they harvest for their product, although they receive timber from other sources.
Paper produced at the Cedar Springs mill, particularly the linerboard and backing, is used in the production of corrugated boxes. “A lot of people are confused,” she explained. “Like your Amazon box, they call it a cardboard box. It’s not really cardboard. A cardboard box would be like a cereal box or a Kleenex box. She explained how the linerboard and backing are put together, creating box panels with the distinct “wave” pattern in the middle.
She showed attendees pictures of the various machines used in papermaking, including machines designed to specifically process hardwood or softwood, as well as digesters, which she described as “a big Insta- Pot”. “We process about 3 million tons of lumber a year,” she explained, saying it was the largest exporter of containerboard in the United States, with China being their biggest customer.
The facility has received various awards and accolades over the years, including being named Georgian Fabricator of the Year by Governor Kemp in 2019.