Tag: paper

Crisis in trust revives faith in ink and paper

South Africa truly is the land of Chicken Licken – the fluffy little bird in the children’s story, not the purveyor of fiery wings at the local drive-thru.

Like the chick, South Africans are prone to jump to the worst conclusion in a crisis, of which there are plenty, and assume that this time the sky is indeed falling on our heads.

The notion of crisis, though, has some remarkably positive spin-offs.

A friend WhatsApped me the moment the lights went out during the packed official launch of Jacques Pauw’s The
President’s Keepers at Johannesburg’s Hyde Park shopping centre on Wednesday night: “Got to bit about State Security Agency. Electricity suddenly cut out so we could not hear Jacques. V suspicious.”

She and most in the audience assumed this was another ham-fisted censorship attempt. That’s what happens when there is a breakdown of trust in society. Nobody believes anyone anymore.

For now, though, heightened levels of cynicism are useful tools as South Africa looks for a more certain future at the ANC elective conference next month.

Horror writer Stephen King wrote recently: “It is the trust of the innocent that is the liar’s most useful tool.” He may have been referring to Donald Trump, but the sentiment fits here too.

South Africans have finally begun to lose their innocence courtesy of the flood of information on the criminal networks operating in the country. Those networks are haemorrhaging information. Whatever their motivation, whether to divert attention from their own activities or sow discord, South Africans can no longer claim to be ignorant of the issues.

Ironically, state capture is breathing life into an industry long feared on its knees. The nonfiction book trade, contrary to expectations when Amazon brought the Kindle to market, is booming. In an age of social media misinformation and the trust deficit that has produced globally, people are going back to reliable sources of information. The social media revolution, which 10 years ago was expected to enhance the quality of and access to information, has proved liable to being hijacked by agenda-laden vigilantes.

The saying “There is no honour among thieves” holds true. More and more, information is leaked by those fed up with how entrenched the rot has become or those hedging their bets in anticipation of the tide turning. The result is a breakdown in trust and reversion to print.

The written word somehow brings hope to a jaded public. Exclusive Books CEO Benjamin Trisk took delight this week in paying tribute to the SSA, which tried to force the withdrawal of the Pauw book with the subtlety of an amorous rhino.

Beyond the sordid detail is an unappreciated fact. Even the bad guys are worried about what might happen to them in the event of progressive political change.

Expect the noise levels to rise in the next few weeks as the ANC prepares to elect a new leadership. The stakes are high, and we probably haven’t yet seen the worst of the dirty tricks. There are massive vested interests at play. Either a venal elite gets to continue its plunder or we get a chance to redeem ourselves.

How do you tell the difference between fact and fiction? Ronald Reagan was succinct on the subject: “Trust, but verify.”

By Bruce Whitfield for Business Live

 

Paper perfect

Artist Yulia Brodskaya is a highly regarded paper artist and illustrator who uses two simple materials – paper and glue – and a technique that involves the placement of carefully cut and bent strips of paper to make lush, vibrant, three-dimensional paper artworks.

Brodskaya started working as a graphic designer and illustrator in 2006; however, she quickly abandoned the computer programs in favour of paper art.

“Paper always held a special fascination for me. I’ve tried many different methods and techniques of working with it, until I found the way that has turned out to be ‘the one’ for me: now I draw with paper instead of on it.”

Soon after discovering her passion and unique style, Brodskaya earned an international reputation for her innovative paper illustrations. Her modern take on the paper craft practice has helped her build an impressive list of clients in just a few short years. She is frequently invited to speak at design conferences and design schools around the world. Her original paper artworks are owned by Oprah Winfrey, Ferrero, Hermés, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Paramount Pictures, Country Music Association, Wimbledon, Mr Issey Miyake and numerous other private collectors.

Source: Art Yulia

61% success rate in the fight against global “greenwash”

Two Sides, the global initiative to promote the sustainability of print and paper, has reported a 61% success rate in persuading global organisations to remove misleading green claims from their communications as part of its worldwide anti-greenwash campaign.

601 of the world’s leading corporations, including banks, utilities, telecoms and insurance companies have been researched and checked by Two Sides, exposing 460 of those companies to be using misleading greenwash statements in their marketing and communications activities. To date, 278 of those offending companies have removed their misleading greenwash statements as a direct result of ongoing engagement by the Two Sides initiative.

Says Martyn Eustace, Chairman of Two Sides, “We’re really pleased that the ongoing efforts and lobbying of Two Sides is having such a significant effect on some of the world’s largest and most influential organisations. But there is no room for complacency, and there is still a great deal of work to do tackling the remaining companies that continue to mislead their customers.”

Major global corporations are still using inaccurate and misleading environmental claims to encourage consumers to ‘go paperless’ and switch from paper-based to digital communication. This is despite legislation being introduced by the advertising standards authorities in many countries to protect the consumer from being misled.“It’s extremely frustrating and unacceptable,” continues Eustace.

“Marketers in some of the world’s most high-profile corporations are resorting to unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims to persuade consumers to switch from paper-based to cheaper electronic communication. Many consumers still have a strong preference for paper but they are being manipulated by a lack of clear and accurate information when in fact paper, based on a natural, renewable and recyclable resource, should be considered as a highly sustainable way to communicate.”

The worldwide Two Sides teams have maintained a ruthless determination to tackle greenwash in their respective countries with their ongoing activities paying dividends in the global anti-greenwash campaign. North America Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America, comments, “Over 88 major corporations, including many of the Fortune 100, have now changed or removed misleading environmental claims about print and paper to comply with country-specific environmental marketing guidelines. Our discussions with Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Sustainability Officers and others, have been very productive and we are pleased with the collaboration of America’s leading organizations. Thanks to an overall better understanding of the unique sustainable features of paper products, “go green – go paperless” and “save a tree” claims are gradually disappearing from the marketplace.”

Kellie Northwood, Executive Director, Two Sides, Australia and New Zealand, comments, “It is our responsibility as an industry, but also as part of broader environmental education, to challenge misinformation about the impact of communication channels. Greenwashing is one of the greatest threats to being truly sustainable and we work very hard to ensure companies making the wrong claims correct their communications. Of the companies we have contacted, 73% have altered their anti-print messaging, and the remaining we continue to engage with.”

“This year Two Sides Brazil has chosen the fight against greenwashing as a number one priority,” says Fabio Arruda Mortara, Country Manager for Two Sides in Brazil. Reaching an agreement with the Justice Tribunal of São Paulo, towards the withdrawal of the non-reliable contents of their printing manual, was probably our best achievement in 2017.

Brazil has just become the second largest pulp producer in the world, which makes the challenge to clarify our position, even more important. “In Brazil, the latest statistics show that net forest land area has increased substantially in the past 20 years”, adds Mortara.

Everyone in the world has the right to know that print and paper are not hostile to the environment and add immense value to our civilization.”
Deon Joubert, Executive Director, Two Sides South Africa, adds, “We continue to engage with corporates and government institutions regarding their environmental messaging to their customers and citizens. There remains a concern that conventional wisdom linking the use of paper to the destruction of forests remains prevalent and unchallenged. Not only are plantation trees grown to be harvested, just like any crop, these plantations provide commercial and surprisingly good environmental benefits to our world. In addition, in a recent Toluna research project conducted in South Africa, 92% of consumers want to be able to choose how they receive communication from corporates and government.”

Isabel Riveros, Executive Director, Two Sides in Colombia, comments, “During the first year of the campaign, we were able to make the Government remove any mention of ‘zero paper’ from their National Development Plan for the next four years. However, the big challenge continues. We must contact every company that is using greenwash, and make them understand that the process of paper production is a sustainable one.”

Jonathan Tame, Country Manager, Two Sides UK, adds, “We have a very active campaign to research and remove Greenwash in the UK, with a very encouraging response. 83% of all companies we have engaged have agreed to remove misleading messages and in many cases, we have helped organisations amend their marketing communication guidelines.” Eustace continues, “Consumers should not be misled and encouraged to go ‘paperless’ through the use of misleading ‘green’ marketing. The true picture of the excellent environmental benefits of paper is being overlooked by these false messages. Paper is a renewable and recyclable product that, if responsibly produced and used, can be a sustainable way to communicate. The forest and paper industries rely on sustainable forests and they are major guardians of this precious and growing resource.”

Why paper won’t die

Boxes. Labels. Books. Your child’s first report card. A tissue for their first heartbreak. All made from paper; a renewable, recyclable material that is an inextricable, often invisible part of our lives. Think about it …from the moment we wake up to when we nod off with a book in hand, paper is there.

In a world that strives to go paperless, very often for the wrong environmental reasons, the paper industry firmly believes that paper is making a comeback in some quarters, and that it is here to stay.

The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) shares the reasons why paper is good for us, our economy and our environment.

1.         It’s versatile

Paper is categorised into three principal types  – printing and writing, packaging and tissue – and chances are that we use each kind every day.

Paper in its most common form – white copy paper – could be the start of something, a blank canvas, a new project or design, your first book. A variety of printing and writing papers help to  communicate and inform through news and advertising, the label on the coffee jar, the medicine box insert and the month-end supermarket specials. Paper also educates – from your child’s first reader to their last matric exam.

Paper packages and protects. From our eggs, teabags and cereal, milk and juice in cartons, to medicine and cosmetics. And let’s not forget that new computer equipment for the office or your online shopping order.

From the bestseller of your favourite author to a night at the movies with popcorn, a drink and a box of chocolates, paper entertains.

Facial and toilet tissue, kitchen towel and baby and feminine products help to improve our lives through convenience and hygiene.

2.         It’s renewable

In South Africa, paper is produced from farmed trees. Some 600 million trees are grown over 762,000 hectares for the very purpose of making pulp and paper.

“If it wasn’t for commercially grown trees, our indigenous forests would have been eradicated years ago to meet our fibre, fuel and furniture needs,” explains PAMSA executive director Jane Molony. “Sustainable, commercial forests have a vital role to play in curbing deforestation and mitigating climate change.”

As with most agricultural crops, trees are planted in rotation. Once mature – after seven to 11 years, they are harvested. However, only 9% of the total plantation area is felled annually. New saplings are planted in the same year, at an average rate of  260,000 new trees per day, or one-and-a-half saplings per harvested tree. This is what makes the paper we source from wood renewable.

3.         It’s recyclable

Recovered paper – the paper and cardboard from our recycling bins – is a valuable raw material and South Africa has been using it as an alternative fibre in papermaking since 1920.

Given that land suitable for the commercial growing of trees is limited, virgin fibre is supplemented with recovered paper. On the other hand, an injection of virgin fibre is also needed in the papermaking process because paper fibres shorten and weaken each time they are recycled.

In 2016, 68.4% of recoverable paper was recycled – recoverable paper excludes the likes of books and archived records, and items that are contaminated or destroyed when used, like tissue hygiene products and cigarette paper.

South Africa’s paper recovery rate has increased by 2% year on year, and is well above the global average of 58% (2015).

4.         It’s good for the environment

Working forests provide clean air, clean water and the managed conservation of wetlands, grasslands and biodiversity.

Farmed trees are efficient carbon sinks. Every year, South Africa’s commercial forests are estimated to capture 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, in turn releasing 15 million tonnes of life-giving oxygen…. Memory jog back to that primary school science lesson on photosynthesis.

The carbon remains locked up even after the wood is chipped, pulped and made into the many items we use every day. This is a good reason to recycle as it keeps this carbon locked up for even longer. Sent to landfill, paper will naturally degrade along with wet waste and add to unnecessary emissions.

Recycling is a space saver too: one tonne of paper saves three cubic metres of landfill space – and the associated costs. The 1.4 million tonnes of recyclable paper and paper packaging diverted from landfill in 2016. This is the equivalent to the weight of 280,000 African elephants. The same volume would cover 254 soccer fields or fill 1,680 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

The South African pulp and paper industry avoids 1,3 million tonnes of carbon emissions from fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) through the use of renewable biomass-based energy. Emissions are also offset by the trees grown for papermaking.

5.         It’s good for the economy

Not only does pulp and paper production add around R3.8 billion to the South African economy annually, the growing and harvesting of trees, the making of paper products and recycling them provides sustainable jobs for thousands of people.

Let’s not forget the jobs of engineers and researchers who design advanced technologies and processes that make pulping, papermaking and paper recycling more energy and water-efficient, and the artisans and operators that keep paper production moving.

Add to this the downstream value chains which rely on paper to produce their products, including printing and publishing, media, marketing and advertising, and the myriad sectors which use paper-based packaging to protect their goods during transit.

“Any which way you look at it, paper, tissue and paper-based packaging are essential, and this is a good thing – for our economy and for our environment,” says Molony. “Invented some 2,000 years ago, paper is one of the oldest ‘technologies’ with research, development and innovation continuing the world over to make more efficient use of trees, recycled paper, water and energy. Paper is a great story.”

Sappi’s shift in strategy is paying off

JSE-listed Sappi said its strategic shift to place more emphasis on dissolving pulp and speciality packaging was starting to pay off, placing it in a good position to reach its 2020 target.

Sappi said it had put emphasis on strong cash- generation and cost-management initiatives to reduce variable costs to reach its target.

The group said it had set aside nearly $350-million (R4.6-billion) for capital expenditure in 2017.

Sappi said it managed to improve its European and US businesses, with speciality-packaging paper units achieving strong sales growth and profit margins. In South Africa, the group said, the paper business experienced a strong recovery in sales volumes in the six months to end March.

Chief executive Steve Binnie said the business was on track to deliver projects it set to achieve locally and abroad.

“Our projects to increase capacity of speciality packaging in Europe and North America are progressing as planned,” Binnie said. “Capital expenditure in 2017 is expected to be about $350m.”

This includes the next phase of the dissolving pulp debottlenecking projects at Ngodwana and Saiccor mills, the Somerset Mill wood yard and the initial phases of the speciality-packaging conversions.”

Sappi has manufacturing operations in Europe, America and South Africa and customers in over 150 countries.

The graphic-paper markets in Europe and the US remained sluggish during the sixth-month period.

But the group said orders improved in late March and April while rising paper pulp and latex prices, along with a weaker euro, had started to place pressure on European margins. It said paper price increases, scheduled for April, offered only partial relief.

“The reason for this is that paper is a business in decline and it continues to be under pressure because of an increased shift to the digital space in conducting business and an increase in the price of raw materials, especially in the past six months,” said Binnie.

In a move to reposition the business, Binnie said Sappi would undertake some measures to keep the business going in a rapidly changing global market. He said the traditional glossy-paper business represented only one-third of the company while two-thirds consisted of dissolving wood pulp and speciality packaging.

In South Africa, Sappi has set itself growth ambitions in an economy set to grow no more than 0.8percent in 2017.

“The short-term goal is to produce 60000 tons in dissolving wood pulp over the next year in South Africa. We expect to grow that to 300000 tons in the next three years and we are hoping to increase it to a million tons by 2025,” said Binnie.

Sappi reported a marginal rise in sales to $2.6bn, up from $2.5bn, while headline earnings per share was higher at 33 US cents a share, up from 31 US cents reported in 2016. The profit came in a $178m, up from $175m a year earlier.

The group reported a net debt of $1.33bn, down by $323m year-on-year. Sappi shares rose 0.74percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R101.34.

By Sandile Mchunu for www.iol.co.za

Low paper prices hurt Mondi 

South African packaging and paper company Mondi said on Thursday underlying operating profit for the first quarter of 2017 was down 6% due to lower selling prices and inflationary cost pressures.

Underlying operating profit fell to 252-million euros ($274-million) in the three months through March from 269 million euros a year ago, Mondi, which is also listed in London said in a statement.

The figure was up 12% on the fourth quarter last year due to higher sales volumes and prices.

“Strong sales volume growth was more than offset by a significantly lower forestry fair value gain, inflationary cost pressures and lower average selling prices,” the company said.

The packaging paper division was impacted by lower selling prices for containerboard, while significantly lower gains on the value of its forestry assets, lower average export selling prices for hardwood pulp and white top kraftliner products, and a stronger rand impacted the South Africa division.

“As previously advised, we are experiencing some inflationary cost pressures across the Group and the forestry fair value gain is expected to be lower than in 2016,” the company said.

*($1 = 0.9195 euros).

By Nqobile Dludla for www.moneyweb.co.za

Paper is mightier than the microchip

Screen culture is damaging creativity. Increasingly, I see young creatives reach for their laptops whenever they have a problem to solve.

Hey, there are no new ideas on a screen. You’ll only find ideas that already exist. And you don’t want those. Do you?

The computer is a big cluttered cupboard, a superfast postman and a very clever professor. It’s not a creative tool.

Not when your task is to come up with new ideas.

The brain only truly ignites when the hand has a pen and it hovers over a huge pile of lovely white paper.

Screens encourage laziness.

Creatives simply do not bring the same mental effort to screens as they do when working with paper. Studies from around the world show that people working with screens are far more casual than those working with paper.

Paper demands more mental energy and commitment. In 2005, San José State University found that students using screens spent more time trying to take shortcuts than those working with paper.

Their time was spent browsing, scanning and hunting for keywords. The students using paper spent more time thinking. Their brains were more active in seeking out the problem. Screens tire us. They emit light that drains our energy, irritates our eyes and makes us feel tired. Paper does the exact opposite.

It reflects natural light. It has texture, weight and beauty. Paper is sensory. The physical aspects of writing and drawing on paper are simultaneously linked with our cognitive processes.

Our mind and body are interlinked.

Studies by Professor Anne Mangen at the University of Stavanger in Norway show that our brains don’t work like computers.

We don’t sense things and process the sensory perceptions afterwards.

Mangen proved that sense and process are one.

And the best way of harnessing this is via the medium of paper.

There is a close connection between what we sense and do with our bodies and what we understand.

Paper is classical and speaks to us in a mental language we comprehend.

It has been the creative launch pad for centuries, inspiring Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs and David Bowie along the way.

Jean Luc-Velay, a French neurophysiologist, has produced studies showing that writing and drawing by hand stimulates different electrical impulses in the brain.
These brain impulses are dormant when we work with screens.

Which explains why the smarter institutes of learning are bringing paper back into the classroom.

Paper reveals your very own emotional mind map.

It shows you the wide roads of unhindered thoughts, the side streets where you can stop to gaze at the mental architecture, the cul-de-sacs of curious concepts and the random roundabouts that make you giddy.

Paper gets you to your destination: the big idea.

And it allows you to understand your creative journey more fully.

The next time you have a brief, shut down your laptop and grab a layout pad and a marker.

You’ll get more ideas.

You’ll get more interesting ideas.

And it will be more fun.

And if someone tells you that you are wasting too much paper, tell them they shouldn’t work for an advertising agency. They should work for the Forestry Commission.

By Tony Cullingham for www.campaignlive.co.uk

Hackers hindered by pen and paper

In an age of superfast computers and interconnected everything, the only sure way to protect the integrity of sensitive data, such as election results, is to return to paper and pen.

That is the view of Sijmen Ruwhof, an ethical or “white hat” hacker, who last month revealed that the Dutch election’s commission computer software was riddled with vulnerabilities.

Continue reading

The Moleskine phenomenon

From spelling out New Year’s resolutions to jotting down designer brainwaves, sometimes only a pen and paper will do, even in the digital era.

And those are the kind of niches that have enabled Italian notebook manufacturer Moleskine to leverage its historically evocative brand into the kind of rapid growth not usually associated with the staid world of stationery.

The Italian group’s sales have more than tripled in the last seven years. Turnover in 2015 was 128 million euros ($134 million); 200 million is the target for 2018 with Asia in the front line of the company’s plans to expand its retail network from 80 outlets to 120 over the same period.

According to business expert Alessandro Brun, the growth has been driven by Moleskine’s ability to successfully pitch an “extremely ordinary” item as being an object of desire imbued with history and an essential lifestyle tool for the contemporary creative.

“It is fair to talk about a Moleskine phenomenon,” said Brun, professor of company management at Milan Polytechnic.

From its launch as a brand in 1997, under then-owner Milanese publisher Modo & Modo, Moleskine has hammered away at the idea that it has revived the classic notebooks favoured by the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh and Hemingway.

Those now sold under the Moleskine brand are indeed modelled on those once manufactured by a French provincial bookbinder for Paris stationers. But they are made in China, rather than the Loire valley.

Knowledge workers

With their rounded edges and distinctive elastic binder, the original notebooks were known as “carnets moleskines” in French, because their smooth black covers were thought to resemble moleskin.

They were a classic of simple design but production stopped in 1986 when their original manufacturer, based in the town of Tours, closed.

Famously, travel writer Bruce Chatwin was so distraught he went round buying up as many as he could find, then wrote a lament to the notebooks in his book “The Songlines” that came out the following year.

Inspired by that account, Modo & Modo registered Moleskine as a trademark almost a decade later and the notebooks are still instantly recognizable, even if the new owners have substantially expanded the range of sizes, formats and paper quality on offer.

So who buys them? According to company boss Arrigo Berni the primary market is among so-called “knowledge workers” – designers, architects, engineers and lawyers.

“Our customers are marked out not so much by their level of income as by their level of education,” Berni said.

The advent of the digital era has not reduced the importance of physical experiences, he argues. If anything, the opposite is true, particularly for the 30-something generation.

“Consumers are sometimes a little more astute and intelligent than financial analysts give them credit for,” Berni adds.

As with the revival of vinyl in music, an aesthetically-pleasing, robust notebook provides an add-on to what the iPhone or a laptop can do, he argues, citing a survey of 4,000 designers which found 65 percent of them prefer a pen/notebook combination for recording ideas.

Moleskine Cafes

So how does he explain Moleskine growing sales at 20 percent a year in a global stationery market expanding at 3-4 percent?

“Beyond having a quality product, it’s about selling a brand and a sense of belonging (to a community), which is exactly what Apple does,” he said.

That vision has been behind Moleskine’s recent diversification with the brand now found on pens, accessories such as backpacks and, less obviously, in cafes.

The first Moleskine Cafe opened at Geneva airport in 2015, the second in July in central Milan.

Customers can enjoy a cup of coffee and light fare surrounded by exhibits such as sketches done in Moleskine notebooks. And of course stock up on Moleskine products.

“The cafes are about creating a link between customers and the brand,” said Brun.

Currently listed on the Milan stock exchange, Moleskine is now 95 percent owned by D’Ieteren, a Belgian group best known for its car dealerships.

The new owners are planning to take the company private but Berni is not expecting any other changes. “They have a long term vision,” he said.

By Celine Cornu for www.thelocal.it

Till 1995, paper as a commodity was called white gold. But this gold has lost its sheen. In the 1960s, economists predicted that paper would face a shortage in India when its per capita consumption of about 2 kg catches up with the global average of around 35 kg.

To be fair, in 1973 the country witnessed an unprecedented paper boom. Financial institutions liberally doled out loans to all paper mills without looking into their viability. More than 320 mini paper mills and about a dozen big paper mills started operations since 1976 and after 1980 all these new mills started closing operations systematically.

Wrong forecast
Recently, Ballarpur Industries accounting for almost 35 per cent of the Indian paper market shut down citing financial constraints and adverse market conditions. Just a year ago Sirpur Paper Mills, a leading producer also shut its mill citing adverse market conditions.

Thus the pundits’ forecast turned out to be mere bluff, like the Malthusian theory of population which predicted famine for an increasing population in geometric progression. Robert Malthus did not figure technology in food production.

In the case of paper, computers and telecommunications greatly displaced the use of paper. A compact disc of 700 MB can store matter than can be printed in 60 reams of paper (double demy) of 60 gsm equivalent to one tonne of writing /printing paper.

This means, India’s 2 million tonnes of writing and printing paper production can be stored in some 1350 hard drives of 1 TB, which can be kept inside a small shop of 1,000 sq feet. One can understand the economics behind this. Also, one can think in terms of easy retrievability of data from computers, or discs, when compared to hard copy retrieval from paper board files.

Almost all government departments, regulatory bodies negotiable instruments, bank transfers, and so on have switched to electronic data keeping thanks to itseasy retrievability, accessibility, speed and safety. Therefore, there can be no speakable growth rate in paper in future.

In 1990s, the production of paper in the US in writing and printing grade was around 90 million tonnes which has dipped to around 60 million tonnes; it is continuing to decline.

The US government which used to be a leading consumer of paper is now storing data in metallic tapes and computers. This substitutes consumption of around 33 million tonnes of paper. This is the position for all governments worldwide.

Most of the demand prediction in India was based on the increase in the income levels of the lower and middle level income group. As this populace graduates towards the upper income level, a fresh demand would be created especially through education. This under normal circumstances was true especially for a country like India where 36.4 per cent of the population was living below-subsistence levels.

Electronic invasion
Income level did increase as predicted and a good percentage of our population graduated to upper income levels. But consumption of paper didn’t go up as expected. The electronic media invaded. Children are now using smartphones and computers for learning.

A greater section of the younger generation, including the eligible working population, has now turned to electronic medium. Thus the anticipated demand for paper did not materialise.

The book publishing industry too had been greatly affected; though the reading habit has greatly increased, readers now use laptops and mobile platforms for reading, which offers them great convenience in terms of bookmarking and revisiting passages.

In the office segment the effect is profound. All files are now stored on internet-based (cloud) applications from Google, Apple, etc.. Demat of shares and downloading of public limited company balance sheets in company websites, electronic telephone bills, e-ticketing, all have impacted paper consumption.

What vanished in the meantime was manifold paper, manila pink cover paper, duplicating paper, bond paper, ledger paper, account book paper, share application paper, policy bond paper and so on. Only copier grade paper mainly used in taking print outs from electronic printers is in use. That is in short a shift in consumption pattern that happened due to technology.

Also, a sea change has taken place in the way pulp is made. Added by advancement in chemical engineering in gumming fibres, most nations use ash content or saw dust in their pulp for very good quality paper thus substituting precious long fibre coniferous trees. Time magazine is printed in six-colours on paper using 35 per cent ash content on advanced printing machines.

The road ahead
In the paper manufacturing process, the advancement in high-speed machinery consuming optimum energy and controlled by electronic sensors, resulted in immense cost reduction for paper mills. Also, the latest technology would help them to conform to green emission/pollutions norms.

In about 15 years, consumption for writing and printing grade paper would have declined tremendously. As a standing reference, one can note that big photo film companies such as Kodak or Konica had to shut down their production of photo films when smartphones arrived.

There is no point in Indian paper manufacturers blaming cheaper imports. Countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, which have stronger currencies and better technologies, export to India. A focus on further cost reduction by implementing latest technologies would be a better option rather than to expect price increase through demand growth. For example, the ability to make copier grade paper in 40 gsm instead of the present 70 gsm should be the focus. The existing paper mills would survive only if they try to improve their pulping and paper machine technology instead of blindly adding capacity. However, packing grade paper such as kraft and duplex board may witness steady marginal growth due to rejection of plastics.

By TS Viswanathan, MD of Subramaniam Brothers, for www.thehindubusinessline.com

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