Paper, Past, Present, Future
Ever since its first creation, paper have made an impact in many areas, notably in the area of communication. From the first paper made from mulberry to the modern cellulose paper, this product has gradually become an essential part of our daily lives. Because of this, paper production worldwide stands at approximately 400 million metric tons in 2011 with the US paper industry making 100 billion USD yearly. Hence, the paper industry can be considered as one of the pioneer industries for many countries.
In the past, pioneers of a country could only rely on natural resources to build their future. Forests were the main natural resource available at that time and were cleared so that land could be cultivated and wood could be used to build houses and other infrastructure.
Naturally, saw mills became the main industry. Because of the fibrous nature of wood, paper mills started appearing around saw mills and gradually became the pillar of support for the economy. There were even times whereby the start of a paper industry in a country was considered as an indication of success for the economy.
However, in present day, the public image is getting worse for the paper industry. It is labelled as one of the most polluting industry due to extensive use of chemicals during the production process. Although the paper industry has come a long way to reduce pollution, the main argument against this industry is the impact it begets on deforestation. In addition to existing problems, used paper took up majority of landfill composition.
With rising environmental awareness in the world, we can expect drastic changes in the future of the paper industry as a whole.
The world will probably still be consuming as much paper products as it consumes now and what will change is probably the different types of paper product used. More environmentally friendly products such as corrugated board are expected to increase in production as they are made from unbleached pulp which does not require extra bleaching chemicals. Furthermore, they can be recycled easily and transportation is not economically favoured. Production of specialised papers such as coffee filters will still be viable as demands are rather high and there isn’t much alternatives for them.
On the other hand, the market outlook for papers made from virgin high brightness chemical pulp seems bleak due to the increasing world concern on deforestation. Newsprint are also suffering from the same fate due to increasing popularity of online media. Other paper products such as coloured papers may also suffer a drop in production due to low demand and the need for extra dyes and effluent treatment.
In conclusion, the future of the paper industry sees much promise for many years to come as there are still paper products that do not have an alternative currently. However, with the world gearing towards environment friendliness, we can foresee changes in the production for different types of paper products towards lesser and cleaner chemicals usage. Tradeasia offers a wide range of different chemical alternatives used in environmentally friendly processes.
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