Some people think the pulp and paper industry will eventually be hindered by the current digital age in which we live. While it sounds logical, that’s not the reality of what’s happening. The pulp and paper industry has been thriving and will continue to do so in 2023. Notably, leaders in the industry must continually innovate to meet the changing demands. Pulp and paper have adapted to the changes that have occurred in recent years and are continuing to thrive. There are also interesting trends that have disrupted the industry.
Technology has contributed to developing a global market that consists of consumers worldwide committed to sustainability. As a result, manufacturers have sought alternatives to petroleum-based products and have identified biodegradable and environmentally-friendly options. These are just some of the changes occurring. Check out the many trends below that will transform the pulp and paper industry in 2023.
Pulp and Paper Industry Trends
1. Increased Online Sales
The online sales of pulp and paper products are growing in the United States and China, the biggest markets. This is a trend that is expected to continue in 2023. It’s partly due to online shopping that has required innovation in packaging to optimize the display of products on shelves. The growth encompasses a higher demand for raw materials and corrugated boxes. There is also an increased number of required products immediately with very little lead time. This includes both same-day and next-day product delivery services. From a production standpoint, the goal is to provide services faster without sacrificing quality.
2. Higher Packaging Demand
In 2023, the global demand for various packaging products will either remain stable or increase. This includes production in Japan, China, European countries, and the United States. In fact, one of the pulp and paper industry’s strengths is that the demand for packaging products is always expanding. This is spurred by the boost in online shopping and the explosion of e-commerce entrepreneurial endeavors in recent years.
3. Use of Big Data
Another trend that’s in play in the pulp and paper industry is the use of big data. This is to analyze industry trends and needs to optimize the results of production, marketing, and sales. There’s also the use of new technologies, including intelligent systems and connected devices, during the production process for improved outcomes. The capabilities will continue to develop, such as smart systems that assess pulp and paper products’ condition and quality. Analytics are even used to assess the volume and growth of trees that can be harvested for raw materials. The use of big data is expected to expand in 2023 and subsequent years with companies such as Pulmac leading the way with its automation platform.
4. Digital Revolution
Although the digital revolution did not destroy the pulp and paper industry, it required a strategy pivot. For instance, there was a clear shift to packaging materials from print paper for obvious reasons, given the tremendous demands associated with shipping products purchased online. Many in the industry have made tactical moves that involved leveraging capabilities to meet the changing needs in the market. There has also been the implementation of new technologies to optimize productivity. The result is often faster speed and improved quality.
5. Lightweight Packaging
If you’re a consumer, you may have noticed a change in the weight of certain packaging. To those that are attentive, this becomes obvious for certain products. It’s because lightweight packaging was introduced, as many benefits were discovered. This is the case for packaging products at all levels, including luxury brands. One of the benefits of lightweight packaging is that it can support the growth of a business by cutting expenses. Lightweight packaging lowers pulp expenses, reduces CO2 emissions, and slashes shipping costs, which are just some of the many benefits.
6. Recyclable Products
The ability to recycle pulp and paper products is non-negotiable for some consumers. As a result, there is an increase in recyclable products. This has been a challenge in that some products contained waterproof coatings that were problematic for recycling. Now there is a push to use recyclable protective coatings, a trend that will further develop in 2023 and beyond. The growing concern over the amount of packaging that could not be recycled has resulted in the European Union’s involvement in plastic packaging. This offers many future opportunities for pulp and paper.
7. Hygiene Products Packaging
Another trend that will continue in the pulp and paper industry is the increasing growth of hygiene products and the subsequent need for packaging. This includes toilet paper, wipes, tissues, and paper towels, to name a few. The growth is partly due to the increased purchase of these items by the middle class. In some regions of the world, this is attributed to an actual increase in the middle-class population and, thus an increase in the consumption of these products. Manufacturers in the pulp and paper industry have exploited this growth in socioeconomic status by producing packaging that accommodates an increasing demand.
8. Thermal Market Growth
There is growth in the thermal market that’s linked to the increase in food delivery services. Specifically, there is an increase in the number of restaurants offering delivery options and an explosion of third-party delivery service providers, such as GrubHub and UberEats. This has created a need for thermal packaging that is expected to grow. As long as consumers expect to have hot food delivered to their homes expeditiously, there will be a thriving thermal market in pulp and paper. There are many possibilities and opportunities in this area that will emerge as e-commerce continues to evolve.
9. Packaging for Food
Packaging for food seems to be in constant development. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in packaging products resistant to grease. This product is currently used for various packaged goods and in restaurants. The materials used to produce packaging resistant to grease are changing to eliminate fluorochemicals and replace it with a natural option that doesn’t contain any chemicals. Manufacturers will continue to innovate and evolve to accommodate regulations and meet the current industry demands.
10. Anti-Plastic Sentiments
Ongoing efforts are to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic for packaging. This anti-plastic sentiment is beneficial to the pulp and paper industry in that it encourages biodegradable alternatives. The use of plant-based raw materials is being explored. This is driven by governmental agencies and consumers who are health conscious and committed to finding eco-friendly options. Simply put, the problems associated with plastic result in a tremendous number of opportunities in the pulp and paper industry. The development of alternative products will continue into 2023 and beyond, especially as it relates to the banning of single-use plastic products.
Pulp and paper will continue to play a major role in the world. Despite the changes that have occurred because of technological advancements, this industry has thrived and will continue to do so in 2023. The digital revolution of recent years has led to an expansion in the pulp and paper industry. As the world continues to evolve, so will the industry. Check out the information below, where you’ll find statistics related to pulp and paper industry trends.
Pulp and Paper Industry Stats and Growth Projections in 2023
- In 2023, global pulp and paper production will reach 490 million tons.
- According to projections by Pitney Bowes, global shipping volume is expected to surpass 100 billion parcels in 2023.
- More than 15% of pulp and paper sales in the United States will occur online by 2023.
- For the past 20 years, China has been the largest producer of pulp and paper, followed by the United States.
- A goal of collecting and recycling 55% of all plastic packages has been set by the European Union and is expected to be reached by 2030. This will impact the pulp and paper industry.