North Charleston paper mill provides sustainable careers for recent college graduates
Updated: Dec 8, 2022
by Madi Lynch
The WestRock-owned mill in North Charleston has an abundance of new college graduates among their recent hires and process engineer Morgan Pascal is one of them.
Although the mill is most known for it strong scent as you drive over the Don Holt bridge, young employees like Pascal think of the mill as a great place to be.
“I feel very valuable to the company. They take a lot of my suggestions and invest in me by sending me off to other locations so I can learn more with their own money,” she says.
WestRock is the second-largest packaging company in the United States. Located in North Charleston, South Carolina, the paper mill is a defining part of the town’s cultural landscape as it provides nearly 2,000 jobs.
There are over 30 positions at the paper mill and each requires different skill sets and salaries.
The smell of their hard work is an iconic part of the commute across the Don N. Holt bridge that connects North Charleston to its neighboring cities.
Pascal, a University of South Carolina alumni is proud to work somewhere she feels valued, but also where sustainability is a goal.
“By 2025 there is a goal for all of the products produced by WestRock to be one hundred percent recyclable and compostable. Working at a paper mill you don’t want what you know is sustainable to lose that quality in later production,” said Pascal.
Another recent hire is University of Florida graduate Mona Samsam who has been working at the mill for eight months.
“We make paper that is then converted into paper used for food packaging, pharmaceutical packaging, your typical Amazon boxes, also furniture displays like at places like CVS, and many more applications.” Samsam states.
These are all examples of products with WestRock’s sustainability incentives mentioned by Pascal that will be one hundred percent recyclable by 2025.
“A big initiative for the company we’ve been working on since we got a new CEO last year is an initiative to increase diversity and inclusion by having more females and people of color in the company and to decrease carbon emissions.”
These two women and the work that they do are perfect examples of these initiatives.
WestRock's sustainability report for the year 2021 provides concrete evidence to show how the company has worked to better emissions and products over the previous term.
The report done for the next term will include the work executed by these recent college graduates at the North Charleston mill and driven by the sustainable incentives of WestRock.
Both Samsam and Pascal emphasized their favorite parts of working for WestRock at the North Charleston mill, however an Alabama paper mill is making national headlines for an ongoing strike that is occurring against the company.
This strike is completely separate from the happenings of the local mill, but is also owned by WestRock and an example of how the business and unionization of paper mills can be complicated.
Another June hire and Auburn ‘22 graduate, Nick Dibona commented on the situation in Alabama.
“I am most proud of our mill’s longevity and ability to provide high paying, stable jobs to the local population,” he said.
The North Charleston hires have sustainability in both senses, job security as well as environmental impacts of their work.