KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Multiple federal, state and local officials gathered in Kingsport to celebrate the official opening of Domtar’s recycled packaging facility after years of construction and millions of work hours.

Mill employees and corporate executives mingled with elected officials outside the Kingsport facility during an event on Wednesday before Charlie Floyd, vice president of strategic capital projects for Domtar, announced a partnership with Food City to secure recyclable material.

Cardboard and paper waste from area Food City stores will go to Domtar rather than local landfills and will eventually become part of packaging used by customers across the world, Floyd said.

The new production line focuses on the creation of containerboard, which can be used to make cardboard and other packaging products. Mill general manager Troy Wilson said the product is in hot demand as shipping picks up worldwide.

“It’s the right timing, it’s the right time for us,” Wilson said. “It’s a different market. It’s a growing market. Look at e-commerce, a lot of people order from e-commence now and have their goods and products delivered to their house. How are they delivered? In a box. We make that product.”

Domtar executives said the conversion involved 40 different contract companies and over 1,000 contractors. Despite the population boom on campus, Domtar said December 2022 marked 2.5 million work hours without a lost-time accident.

“We made sure each contractor understood that no job was worth being injured,” Floyd said. “And that we wanted each person to go home to their family without incident each day.”

At its peak, Domtar executives said the new facility can produce around 600,000 tons of packaging material per year.