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Developments in the Sourcing of Raw Materials for the Production of Paper


Vincent Honnold


During the past decade, there have been major changes in the trade flows of the raw materials (pulp logs, wood chips, pulp, and recovered paper) used to make paper. These changes have been driven primarily by the growth of the paper industry in China, the emergence of new suppliers of wood raw materials, and the increased importance of recovered paper as a raw material for the production of paper. China’s paper industry has grown rapidly in the past 10 years, and its output now trails only that of the United States. China, however, lacks the raw materials to support much of its papermaking capacity and thus has become increasingly dependent upon imports of wood pulp, recovered paper, and wood chips. New suppliers of pulp, wood chips, and pulp logs have emerged in recent years as paper producers have looked for cheaper sources of fiber. These new suppliers, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Australia, Vietnam, and Russia, have become increasingly important exporters of wood raw materials. Recovered paper that is repulped and made into new paper has become an important complement to virgin fiber for papermakers throughout the world; consequently, recycling rates for recovered paper have risen in many developed countries. Some of the significant changes in the trade flows of the raw materials used to make paper include large increases in Chinese imports of recovered paper and pulp, increased exports of wood chips from Australia, Brazil, and Vietnam, and rising Russian exports of wood chips and pulp logs to Scandinavia.