We have chosen to do our global strategic plan on the paper industry. This is an industry that has had important changes in the last decade. According to CEPI (www.cepi.org) which is the confederation of European paper industry, the paper industry worldwide has been suffering a continuous decline in production and consumption the past recent years. Just until 2017, the decline changed with a small increase in Paper & Board consumption of 0.5% and an increase in Paper & Board production of 1.5%.
Technology, our change in habits, and consumer consumption trends are amongst the main drivers for the decrease in the production of paper. It is a simple as looking in at how everyday things that involved paper have changed in the last decade. For example, letters have changed to emails, photographs have changed from printed to digital, Newspapers, books, and magazines have changed prom physical to e-versions, and airline and train tickets have gone from printed to downloaded into Smartphones. Governments, public entities and academic institutions are just a few examples of organizations who promote more and more the decrease in use of paper. This is because of the constant document changes y a more regulated world environment.
The country in which we will concentrate our global strategic plan is in Finland. Paper production and exports in Finland is emblematic and almost a national symbol. It’s important to point out that Finland is one of the countries with the highest stocking (forest density) in the world, in which almost 60% of the forests are privately owned and where the access to all forests is free1. Finns highly consider forestry and the paper industry a key in their economics and in the environment. Finland has been one the countries which has been affected by the decrease in consumption and in production of paper. Today, only 20% of Finland’s exports come from its forests whereas it was almost 80% in the early 20th century2. The use and the production of paper though also has to be done responsibly because Paper is made from trees and recycling and production without massive logging must be involved as this is on world watch. As per the European Paper Recycling Council, EPRC (www.paperforrecycling.eu), 72.5% of the paper used is recycled in this region of the world and Finland has one of the most outstanding forest policies in paper resources and a leading example. The country plants more trees than what it cuts.
So, is it all loss and is there a final sentence for the paper industry? And for the paper industry in Finland? We think not. There are many opportunities that come with changes and that will change the strategy of the paper industry in the next couple of years. One strategic issue that will affect the supply chain decisions in the upcoming years is the e-commerce business. The e-commerce business has multiplied over the past years bringing with it an increase demand in paper and carton packaging. Another strategic issue that will impact supply chain within the paper industry within the next couple of years is that there is a great ecologist pressure worldwide to change current plastic packaging for more eco friendly packaging like paper. Especially in this last point of plastics, governments are highly pressuring for things to drastically change like the substitution of plastic bags for paper bags which are 100% biodegradable and recyclable. The same is happening for plastic plates and plastic silver wear. Also, we will probably see more innovation from within the industry in countries like Finland, hopefully to a point where carbon fibers made out of oil and textile fibers will be substituted by much cheaper tree fibers. What we see as a trend in the years to come for companies within Finland to take a more focused approach on the products that they will produce.
In conclusion, the paper industry has changed because of many factors that we will deepen in this global strategic plan and that impact supply chain, but these changes also bring up new opportunities and countries and company must understand these new scenarios in order to be able to take advantage of the situation.