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Economic Values

Pulp and Paper

Countries with high standards of living are large consumers of paper products. Australia consumed 3.6 million tonnes of paper products in 2000-01 - about 180 kg per person. Per person consumption of paper products in Australia is similar to consumption in the United Kingdom but substantially lower than in more highly industrialised countries such as Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States, which are major producers and exporters of manufactured goods.

On a global scale, continued population and economic growth is expected to lead to greatly increased demand for paper products. Between 1990 and 1995 paper consumption increased by 13.6% a year in countries that are members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). In Australia, despite the rapid development of electronic communication systems, the continued growth of the economy is expected to increase the demand for paper products, with printing and writing papers showing the strongest growth.

Countries with high standards of living are large consumers of paper products. Australia consumed 3.6 million tonnes of paper products in 2000-01 - about 180 kg per person. Per person consumption of paper products in Australia is similar to consumption in the United Kingdom but substantially lower than in more highly industrialised countries such as Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States, which are major producers and exporters of manufactured goods.

On a global scale, continued population and economic growth is expected to lead to greatly increased demand for paper products. Between 1990 and 1995 paper consumption increased by 13.6% a year in countries that are members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). In Australia, despite the rapid development of electronic communication systems, the continued growth of the economy is expected to increase the demand for paper products, with printing and writing papers showing the strongest growth.

Most paper is made from either new (virgin) or recycled wood fibre. Other plant fibres such as sugar cane (bagasse), straw and hemp are used but account for only a small proportion of total paper production.

A number of pulping processes can be used to separate wood fibres so that they can be manufactured into paper. Different types of paper require pulps with different characteristics and so the pulping processes used depend on the type of paper to be produced. The processes can be broadly classified as either mechanical or chemical.

Manufacturing Processes

Mechanical pulping processes separate the fibres by mechanical pressure. These processes, which use relatively large amounts of energy, produce high yields of relatively low quality pulp suitable for newsprint and packaging papers where high tearing strength is not required.

Chemical pulping processes separate the fibres by dissolving lignin that binds the fibres together and stiffens the fibre walls. These processes which require expensive effluent disposal and chemical recovery systems, produce low yields of relatively high quality pulp suitable for printing and writing papers and grades of paper where high tearing strength is required.

Paper made from either mechanical and chemical pulp can be recycled. Recycling does not change the intrinsic fibre properties but individual fibres deteriorate with reuse and consequently there is a limit to the number of times they can be recycled. Most recycled fibre is either mixed with virgin fibre or used for packaging grades of paper.

Domestic Supplies

Six companies produce virtually all the paper products manufactured in Australia. They are:-

•  Australian Paper (a business entity owned by Paperlinx Limited), - communications papers and packaging papers;

•  Amcor Limited - packaging;

•  Norske Skog Paper Mills (Australia) Limited, - newsprint and related grades;

•  Carter Holt Harvey Tissue Australia Limited - tissues

•  Kimberly-Clark Australia - tissues and

•  Visy Paper Pty Ltd - packaging.

It is estimated that, of the raw materials used by Australia's pulp and paper industry in 2000-01, 57% was recycled fibre, with the remaining 43% being virgin fibre and additives. About 75% of the virgin fibre used is produced in Australia while the balance is imported.

The major companies manufacturing newsprint, packaging and industrial papers and printing and writing papers have their own wastepaper collection arrangements and are committed to increasing the use of recycled fibre, which is already high by world standards.

Recycled fibre accounts for about 90% of the raw material used for manufacturing packaging and industrial papers in Australia. The corresponding proportions used for manufacturing newsprint, printing and writing papers and tissues are 22%, 5% and 9% respectively.

The Australian pulp and paper industry sources its wood requirements from both public and private regrowth native forests and plantations and uses substantial quantities of sawmill residue. A large proportion of the pulpwood from private land comes from plantations established by the pulp and paper companies.

 

 

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