The paper industry has had its ups and downs over the past few decades, with the advent of digital technology, “going paperless,” and environmental concerns about overusing forests.
There are global trends in the paper industry, however, that are overcoming these challenges and providing fuel for innovation here in the United States for its domestic providers of paper and paper-based products.
India – Sustainable Agro-Based Solution
The paper industry has been getting a good bit of flak lately, especially in India. There has been a push to go paperless in order to save forests. However, a closer look at the paper industry in India reveals that it is an agro-based, not forest-based, operation.
What this means is that farmers are being incentivized to grow trees in order to provide a sustainable solution to the paper industry needs. Furthermore, agro forestry is providing jobs for many in rural areas, generating a sizable boon for local economies.
Agro forestry is utilizing land that is not otherwise usable for farming, frequently using younger trees to provide material for paper mills. Younger trees, according to scientists, absorb more carbon dioxide from the air. Therefore, not only are forests not being hindered, but the agro forestry initiatives are helping to mitigate some of the risks of climate change.
Paper is incredibly environmentally friendly, especially compared to alternatives such as plastic. India could be a great starting point for sustaining the paper industry, reducing forest endangerment, and increasing an essential and environmentally friendly product. India is growing more trees than the paper industry is using – and this model can be replicated in other areas.
Australia – Rise in Energy Costs Affects Paper Manufacturing
There’s no denying that the paper and pulp industries require a significant amount of energy for manufacturing purposes. The price of energy is rapidly increasing, which is taking its toll on the paper and pulp industries, but recent innovations in Australia could reduce overall costs.
Issues that pulp and paper providers in Australia have identified as challenges include base load electricity supply, emissions, and affordable gas. Using key investments and strategic changes to their production processes, suppliers in that country have been able to make annual improvements in the cost of energy totaling 2.5 to 3 percent.
Methods used to achieve these savings include upgrading equipment with the latest technology, optimizing production with automation, and using renewable energy from self-sufficient sources to mitigate the amount of electricity that must be purchased from utilities.
The more electricity that is generated by a plant’s own resources, the more stable costs will be, and the better return a plant or mill will generally receive in terms of energy investments.
There are still political issues that need to be sorted out in Australia that directly affect the country’s pulp and paper industry, but the nation’s providers have been able to achieve energy cost reductions in the face of rising energy costs.