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Paper cup plant closing because of drop in demand

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — An Augusta, Georgia-based factory that looks like a giant paper cup is closing.

The Augusta Chronicle reports Dart Container Corp. has announced it will close the 70-year-old plant by early 2019 because of lower demand for the only product that it makes —single-use food service packaging. The Augusta plant produces paper cups insulated to accommodate both hot and cold beverages.

"This was a strategic but painful decision because we value the commitment and contributions of our Augusta employees, many of whom have been with us for decades," said Dart President Jim Lammers.

Dart employs about 160 people in Augusta. Starting next year, that number will decrease as the company transfers production and equipment. The cups now produced in Augusta will continue to be made in Toronto.

Director of Corporate Communications Margo Burrage said employees might be eligible for severance under union contracts, and will receive job placement information.

The Augusta facility was built by Lily-Tulip Co. in 1947 and changed hands through several food and beverage packaging manufacturers through the years — including Fort Howard Paper Co. and Sweetheart Cup Co. It was purchased by the Solo Cup Co. in 2004.

Dart assumed ownership of the Augusta plant when the company acquired Solo Cup for about $1 billion in 2012.

As Lily-Tulip, the plant marked the biggest addition to Augusta's manufacturing base in the years after World War II.

The Augusta Chronicle's editorial page had this to say on the plant's anniversary in Augusta, on Dec. 5, 1948:

"The Lily-Tulip Cup plant was the first really big industry to be established in Augusta within recent years. Location of the plant here has meant a great deal to Augusta, not only because of the usual benefits connected with the functioning of a big industrial plant, but also because of the widespread publicity Augusta has received because of the building and operation of the plant."

Dart Container is a privately-held company based in Mason, Michigan. It also operates Georgia facilities in Lithonia, Thomaston and Conyers.

Information from: The Augusta Chronicle , http://www.augustachronicle.com