Squeezed by the growing popularity of plastic bags, Stone Container Corp. is closing its 30-person paper-sack plant in Howard County on Oct. 31, shifting the production to operations Richmond, Va., and Elizabeth, N.J.
"We're in a market that is declining, and we have other plants close by that can absorb the business," said plant manager Mike E. Graham. Plastic bags have captured 50 percent of the grocery bag market in the last 10 years, he said.
Stone Container of Chicago, the country's largest paper bag maker, has produced large grocery bags for 15 years at the 98,000-square-foot plant at 8700 Larkin Road in Savage. The plant made about 350 million sacks a year.
About 20 workers will be laid off Oct. 31, Mr. Graham said. But 10 to 12 will continue to work through November dismantling the plant, he said.
The plant was working 24 hours a day, seven days a week until about two months ago. But sack-making equipment at other plants was sitting idle, Mr. Graham said. "They can just move this business into those two plants and reduce the overhead," he said.