An Introduction to the Paper Industry

Paper is an integral part of our lives which is often overlooked and can be taken for granted.

Imagine where we’d be today without paper. It’s the medium by which information has been recorded and distributed for thousands of years, it’s central to hygiene, and paper-based packaging protects goods on their way to customers.

Without paper, it is quite probable that the music created by Mozart would have been lost, Leonardo da Vinci wouldn’t have been so prolific, and inventions such as the motor car may never have happened.Its usefulness and ubiquity have led to it being a major catalyst in the development of today’s world.

Globally, more than 300 million tonnes of paper are produced each year on multi-million-pound machines, at speeds often in excess of 60 mph. Yet, an A4 sheet often costs less than a penny.

One of the attractions of paper is its versatility. It can be permanent or impermanent, delicate or strong, cheap or expensive, and can decompose in water or be water-resistant. Paper can be used: as a communication medium; to protect a vast array of goods; in numerous household applications such as kitchen rolls and disinfectant wipes; goods are protected in it; and new surface treatments mean it even hastens the healing of cuts and bruises.

Most paper products are recyclable and woodpulp, the industry’s primary raw material, is infinitely renewable.

Why is Paper a key material for the 21st Century?

Paper remains a ubiquitous part of our lives – from traditional uses such as recording and spreading ideas, to its indispensable use in personal hygiene; from hi-tech flexible packaging to good old-fashioned cardboard boxes; and from new uses such as components critical to the development of renewable energy to the generation of green energy from paper once it eventually reaches the end of its renewable life. We could go on and on, but the key point is that paper is made from renewable and recyclable materials and is part of a growing bio-based economy. It’s an industrial sector already of high importance and – with the right Government policies – will stay that way. What is paper?

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