When the internet and email came along many commentators wrote to say that this was clearly the end of paper. The paper-free office was considered to be just around the corner.
In fact what was just around the corner was the office packed with computers all linked to printers, all printing out more and more reports and analyses (which fewer and fewer people read or understood). Far from being the end of paper, it looked as if the internet was breathing new demand for paper.
A 1999 report from the American Forest and Paper Association said that “between 1990 and 1998, annual paper consumption rose from 86.8 million tons to 99 million tons,”. They noted a growth in the amount of paper used in direct mail for example, and as recently as 2003 the Conference Board of Canada expressed high levels of optimism for its industry.
By 2005 however the outlook had changed and the industry in many countries was losing rather than making money.
There were two reasons. First the demand for newsprint has gone down as a result of a decline in the number and circulation of newspapers. While the major daily titles have remained, fringe newspapers, and regional newspapers have fallen by the wayside. In the UK many will not have noticed the demise of the extremely downmarket Sport newspapers, but their decline was symptomatic of the problems in the industry.
Thus by 2007 reports were suggesting that the digital revolution was actually having the effect predicted in the 90s – the production of all types of paper was in decline except tissues.
But a more detailed analysis revealed it wasn’t just digital that was causing the problem. Cheap imports from South America, Russia and China also had an impact on traditional industries, not least because China moved from being an importer of paper to being an exporter.
And in fact when looked at on a worldwide basis we can see that the paper industry is not shrinking at all – it is growing. World Paper Markets 2020, now states that “world demand for paper and paperboard is forecast to grow by 2.1% annually in the long term.”
The change therefore is not the simple one of “digital revolution leads to decline in the use of paper” but rather there is a growth in paper use, combined with a demand for lower cost paper product and eco-friendly product.
In fact in 2007, Transcontinental announced a new paper made 100% from recycled material, at a price directly comparable with conventional paper.
And so despite every development and every change, paper use is growing. Different types of paper, made in different countries, but still paper.
Which is why we exist – to store your paper. The need for quality, safe storge of paper has never been greater and we are here to meet your every need.
There’s more information on our website or give us a call on 01922 632227.