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Renewed Optimism in the Pulp-and-Paper Industry

By Paul Grad |

Innovations and the utilization of byproducts are helping this sector to thrive in difficult times The pulp-and-paper industry has gone through difficult times. The rise of electronic media, competition from substitute materials and environmental concerns have caused thousands of mill closures and huge numbers of job losses. However, the industry is looking up again with renewed optimism (Table 1). The expanding middle classes in China, India and Brazil are creating new business opportunities, and an increasing realization of the attributes of wood is persuading governments and businesses to invest in R&D for new materials and products derived from wood. The need to innovate Innovation — the development of new products and processes — is crucial for the industry’s future. However, according to some people in the trade, pulp-and-paper companies have not embraced innovation very well. Professor Gil Garnier, of the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia; www.monash.edu), and director of the Australian Pulp and Paper Institute, (now known as BioPRIA, www.biopria.com.au), says the industry, in general, has failed to adapt to a changing market. He believes the industry has been too conservative.…
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