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What Is the Pulp and Paper Industry?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2016
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The pulp and paper industry is a manufacturing industry dedicated to the production of pulps and papers for a variety of finished products, from business cards to product packaging. This industry spans the globe and includes a number of multinational companies with operations in multiple countries to meet their needs and those of their clients. Trade organizations also represent the industry, working both on a national and international level to promote the interests of their members.

Pulp and paper are closely related. Pulps can be made from timber products, plastics, plant fibers, and other materials. Pulp mills process these materials to develop pulps of the appropriate texture for various applications. These finished pulps can be turned into papers of a variety of thicknesses, textures, and other characteristics. These can include edible papers, cardboards, and other specialty products made with paper pulp.

Members of the pulp and paper industry engage in research and development to create new paper products and expand the market for their products and services. They have close ties with other industries like packaging and industrial design. They also research the pulp and paper process to determine if there are refinements that could improve the process by cutting down on costs, adding quality to finished products, or offering other benefits to the pulp and paper industry.

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Like other industries, this one is subject to regulations from government agencies as well as pressure from community organizations and members of the public. One concern with the pulp and paper industry is environmental soundness, as the processes can be polluting and paper is associated with substantial waste in many nations. Movements for using more recycled content in paper, developing less toxic processes to prepare pulp, and promoting environmental sustainability at factories gained ground in the early 21st century among some trade associations in response to regulatory and public pressure.

Work in the pulp and paper industry can be diverse. Engineers, graphic designers, marketers, and many other professionals can find employment or consulting work in this sector. The industry can also be of interest to investors and other members of financial markets. The latest industry news is typically available through trade publications such as those produced by professional organizations, although major news may also appear in the mass media if it is of interest to the public. Information on economic performance and trends may also be found in financial magazines that focus on industrial topics.

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