2022 Fire Impacting Recycled Paper Production

March 31, 2023

If you noticed it was harder to get recycled paper over the past several months, you weren’t alone. On Oct. 6, 2022, a large fire broke out at the Resolute Forest Products warehouse in Menominee, Michigan. Resolute – a global leader in the forest products industry, producing market pulp, paper, tissue, and wood products – is one of the largest producers of the pulp used to make recycled office paper in North America.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 68 fire departments from Michigan and Wisconsin assisted with the fire over a 16-day period. Officials reported that 420,000 square feet of the 560,000 square foot building were completely destroyed by the fire, and over 36,000 tons of fire debris material was transported off the site. According to Menominee Fire Chief Mark Petersen, the fire took so long to put out because of large quantities of densely packed material in the warehouse. To date, the cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed, but the Menominee Police Department is managing an ongoing investigation. Fortunately, no fatalities or injuries were reported.

The fire had such a significant impact on the supply of recycled office paper because Resolute’s Menominee mill is a primary supplier for the white paper industry. The entire inventory of recovered paper and pulp bales stored at the facility was destroyed, which meant paper manufacturers had to seek alternate suppliers or stop production of recycled paper. In fact, according to Fastmarkets RISI, both Boise Paper and Domtar issued separate letters of force majeure, which effectively allowed a withdrawal from selling recycled paper until production could be recovered1.

The good news is that a March 23, 2023 article from Fastmarkets RISI confirmed Resolute has restarted production and is now making market deinked pulp at Menominee. This means your favorite recycled paper (hint: Aspen 30 Multi-use Recycled Copy Paper) should now be available for purchase from your preferred office paper distributor. 

Sources:

https://www.recyclingtoday.com/news/officials-resolute-forest-products-menominee-paper-mill-fire-officially-out/

https://www.nbc26.com/news/local-news/in-your-neighborhood/marinette/two-months-later-what-caused-the-menominee-mi-paper-mill-fire

https://www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse/investigations/sites-aoi/menominee-county/menominee-warehouse-fire-aoi

https://response.epa.gov/site/site_profile.aspx?site_id=15823

Fastmarkets RISI, November 22, 2022, “Resolute Forest Products RBK pulp mill at Menominee, WI, expected to remain idle until 2023” 1

Fastmarkets RISI, March 23, 2023, “Resolute Forest Products restarts Menominee pulp mill in Wisconsin”

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