Paper Manufacturing

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Everywhere around us we see paper, it can take several forms, wether we are talking about writing paper, reading paper, store receipts, toilet paper, paper bags... the list runs very long actually. However, have we ever took a minute to ponder upon the source of paper? Where does it come from? What recources were used to come up with this product? Who was invloved in this process and what are their living conditions like?

Manufacturing the paper

The technical process of making paper compromises is heavily based on raw materials. It involves three main and basic steps. First, a mixture of fibres is made, i.e, pulp, this pulp comes from natural resources such as trees or recycled paper material. The pulp is then pruduced through an advanced chemical or mechanical process. After the pulp is made, it can be bleached based on the desired appearnace of the final product. The sheet forming process then follows, where water is added to the pulp in specific quantities and is then drained and pressured to form sheets of paper, with the size measurements according to the International Organization for Standardization. The final step invloves drying and pressing the paper to reach to the final usable product.

Paper Manufacturing and the Environment

The paper industry already extensively uses waste materials as raw materials. About 55 percent of the industry's fiber requirements are met by recycling potential wastes. Eighty percent of the post-consumer waste recovered in the United States is paper. In many countries such as Canada, The United States of America, Great Britain, Denmark and several others, the level of recycling seems to be rising. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for all countries, the level of recycling depends on several factors such as the recycling facilities, industry structures, level of education and awareness. The European paper industry is fully committed to increasing recycling. It is a matter of finding the optimum level from both an economic and environmental point of view. In Europe for instance, the European paper industry (CEPI) together the European Recovered Paper Association launched the European Declaration on paper recovery with the support of other organizations from the paper chain (see Figure 1). Further away from the raw materials involved in the production process of paper, there are other implications to the environment in regards to the paper production facilities. The papermaking industry is one of the major causes of industrial pollution in the world, this raises a serious debate.

Figure 1

It has been said that developing countries are the least reluctant to participate in pollution control and protecting the environment due to the lack of heavy regulation and government control on the environment. Conversely, there seems to be a disagreement on this matter, since those developing countries with capital markets have greater incentives to help the environment. The nature of capital markets allows the free flow of information and therefore a great room for public scrutiny on the industrial sector and its effects on the community.

Moreover, in the past "the conventional wisdom is that environmental regulations impose significant costs, slow productivity growth, and thereby hinder the ability of U.S. firms to compete in international markets. This loss of competitiveness is believed to be reflected in declining exports, increasing imports, and a long-term movement of manufacturing capacity from the United States to other countries, particularly in ‘pollution-intensive' industries. Under a more recent, revisionist view, environmental regulations are seen not only as benign in their impacts on international competitiveness, but actually as a net positive force driving private firms and the economy as a whole to become more competitive in international markets."

In highly developed countries on the other hand, firms discover that upon weighing the costs and...
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