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Michigan Paper Mill Sold Green Bonds Amid Record of Odor Violations

  • Company building recycler set to cut water use, save energy
  • Mill has been cited for foul odor in mostly Black neighborhood
Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

To the investors who are pouring into environmentally friendly debt funds, the $100 million “green bond” sale for a paper mill in Michigan this month probably seemed like a good fit.

Graphic Packaging Holding Co. is using the proceeds to help finance a recycling facility at its sprawling factory in Kalamazoo, a project that promises to turn more than 500,000 tons of paper and cardboard waste annually into recycled food and beverage packaging. 

What wasn’t mentioned in the 84-page prospectus for the bonds is that the same company has been cited repeatedly for sending foul odors wafting through the neighborhood surrounding the plant. Or that state regulators are looking into whether the plant is responsible for a toxic gas that may be connected to asthma in that predominately Black community.