The Future of Paper
By Mr. Bernard de Galembert
Forest and Innovation Director, Social Affairs Director, Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI)
When considering the future of paper, the most commonly heard opinion is usually pessimistic, as it tends to just regard paper as the medium to convey printed information, like in books, magazines and newspapers.
It is true that this segment – let’s call it “graphic paper” – is in trouble. The economic downturn has led to reduced spending in publicity in the press, and therefore to less paper consumption. Also, the abundant information available through electronic media is a serious competitor to the printed press. And this competition is likely to become even stronger.
But paper is also used in other products. In the hygiene sector, paper is increasingly used for its simplicity and its clean and healthy qualities. In Europe and North America, with their ageing populations, the future of hygiene products made of paper looks very promising, and Europe counts some of the world’s leading companies in that segment.
Also, as consumption patterns change, the need is growing for flexible, lightweight and recyclable packaging. Online shopping, smaller food portion packaging, etc. offer splendid opportunities for the paper and board packaging sectors. From bulk packaging in corrugated board to luxury boxes wrapping a bottle of champagne or perfume, paper and board are still the options of choice. And designers love inventing ever new ways of folding and wrapping that only paper can deliver.
Fascinating new ways to use paper are currently being developed in the laboratories. Surprising applications are just around the corner!