Paper may be something you take for granted, even if you do not use it every day. In this digital age fewer people use paper for their work and even smaller numbers keep up the great art of letter writing, but paper nonetheless still holds an important place in daily life. The industry as a whole is evolving as the needs for and uses of paper and pulp products change. Here are some changes that pulp and paper industry experts expect to see in the coming decade.
There are some set protocols in the production of paper, which is made from plant materials including cellulose fibers. Making paper takes multiple steps. As manufacturing methods overall have evolved, paper production has also improved through the introduction of new developments and parts such as end seals.
As paper has traditionally been made using wood pulp, many are concerned about the destruction of trees. To answer this concern, some in the industry have sought new materials. There are, in fact, a surprising number of alternatives to trees for making paper. They include:
- Recycled fabrics
As the industry responds to the increasingly strident calls for sustainability, makers of paper will seek out alternative fibers for their paper.
Adaptations to Consumer Packaging
As the concern about plastic waste increases, consumer packaging will continue to evolve. While these changes pose challenges to the paper manufacturing industry in that it will have to innovate its protocols and some processes, they also present opportunities. Another aspect of packaging involves higher demand for boxes as many people want the convenience of home delivery. This service also helps those who are ill or who live in rural areas without retail shops. As packaging needs change, paper manufacturing methods will adapt.
Moving Away From Virgin Pulp
As consumers increasingly want recycled paper goods, paper manufacturers will have to adapt to meet this growing market. There will likely be a shift from mills working strictly with virgin pulp to a growing number of paper producers dedicating their facilities and processes to successfully producing saleable goods from recycled paper and textiles. While this change may lead to short-term industry instability, the long-term transformation will benefit the environment as well as consumers.
As with many industries, the pulp and paper sector has been forced to adapt to the digital age. While demands for some types of paper have decreased, new opportunities have arisen. The challenge for paper manufacturers in the next 10 years will be to balance environmental concerns and consumer demands with viable processes. This ancient industry will not disappear, but it must evolve.