Timber derived products are some of the most widely used goods in the world. Timber is an excellent material from functional, environmental and aesthetic points of view. It is renewable, can be re-used and re-cycled in certain applications and is biodegradable in others and it is used in different forms in the production of a wide range of products as well as being a source of energy.
Megatrends drive pulp and paper demand
Technological advancements are changing how we shop, access information, communicate, and produce things. The explosive growth of e-commerce is becoming an increasingly important driver for packaging materials demand. Individually delivered goods require significantly more packaging material than store-delivered goods.
World population is expected to grow from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion by 2050. There will be approximately 2.5 billion more people living in cities than today. Accelerating urbanization, which correlates with higher incomes, drives demand for pulp, paper, timber, and textiles. Urban areas also typically have higher waste paper collection rates, which provide greater opportunities for recycled paper and board producers.
Global competition has moved production from the West to low-cost regions in Asia. This has shifted the global economic center of gravity to the East and is fueling the explosive growth of the middle class. Fast economic growth in Asia is boosting incomes and increasing demand for paper products in the new manufacturing locations. Growing middle class is probably the most important positive driver for the traditional pulp and paper products for the next decades. It is estimated that about 140 million people are joining the middle class annually and this rate is accelerating. An overwhelming majority of new entrants into the middle class will live in Asia.
Increasing environmental awareness is supporting demand for renewable, recyclable products. Climate change is seen by many as the main threat to the well-being of our planet. This combined with competition for finite resources and ocean pollution caused by plastics is improving the status of all recyclable and renewable products, raw materials, and energy sources. The pulp and paper industry has emerged as a solution provider for many of today’s environmental issues and its image has improved considerably. Wood-based material and products are substituting fossil-fuel-based products in packaging, textiles, chemicals, construction materials, energy generation, and as fuels.
Cellulose: the new plastic.
Products mostly made from plastic today might in the future consist of materials made from cellulose. Cellulose is biologically degradable in nature and is a good alternative raw material for plastic films and isolating foams for packing. Some of the new forest-based products that are currently being developed may replace, in the future, many of the fossil-based materials we use today.
Nanocellulose is a rapidly emerging high performance nanomaterial extracted from trees. The nanocellulose composites promise to be an economical substitute for expensive light-weight carbon fiber composites currently used in some luxury automobiles.