A shift in perspective is currently taking place within the pulp and paper industry¹ towards greater product diversification. Among other things, this is a consequence of declining demand for certain paper products and the fact that there are increasing numbers of customers who want to replace fossil materials with sustainably produced biomaterial. The transition has accelerated, but is associated with major challenges for the actors in the sector.
One major challenge is moving the companies from an overall focus on making their internal processes more efficient in order to cut costs, to thinking at least as much about customer knowledge, business strategy, partnership and sustainability. The government has an important role to play in this readjustment.
The aim of the report is to examine how the government can contribute to a more competitive pulp and paper industry. Sweden has historically been successful through political measures which have contributed to making the industry more effective and reducing emissions. However, the challenge today is much more to do with meeting needs that exist in markets where the pulp and paper industry has not previously been active.
The analysis is based on a comparison of a number of countries that are major producers of pulp and paper. The main countries to be illustrated are Canada, Brazil, India, China, Japan and Finland.
Canada, Finland and Japan all have politically supported innovation strategies with clear priorities. The strategies in Finland and Japan are principally based on clear social priorities. The Japanese strategy is primarily based on materials research, which is one of Japan’s strong areas. The Finnish strategy is based on preserving and developing the country as a major forest nation and thus that the Finnish forest should be used as a raw material when technically possible. The Canadian strategy is more market-oriented. Priorities are set jointly by businesses, government and universities, and changes take place over time. Companies from customer groups are included in this work. These priorities govern which areas receive research support.
Some aspects which connect these strategies are:
Sweden can draw a number of lessons from the countries which are included in this analysis. The most important include:
¹ In the pulp industry pulp is produced from wood. It can be paper pulp, but also textile pulp or packaging pulp. In the paper industry paper is produced from paper pulp. The manufacture of pulp and paper can take place in the same mill, a so-called integrated mill.
Innovation in the pulp and paper industry
Direct response 2016:26