As computer technology evolved, the population of the developed world was in the lead adopting it (mostly because it was invented in these regions, e.g., Silicon Valley) and the people here had the resources to buy it. Among other things, this led to the paperless society scenarios you have all read about.
Emerging nations worldwide have been able to adopt this technology and evolve into a connected society much more rapidly as the cost of technology decreases and their own standards of living improve: thus, the decline in graphic papers.
But, of course, tissue is different. In a simplistic view this can be seen in glib statements such as “You can’t replace tissue with an iPad,” or a crude bumper sticker that has made the rounds suggesting that people try using a piece of plastic instead of bathroom tissue, if you get my drift.
But it is per capita use of tissue that continues to grow. Products such as paper towels, once considered almost a luxury item (or at least not a necessity), are now in everyday use.
Although North America is still the largest tissue market, China is growing rapidly, surpassing Western Europe. China is now the world’s largest producer of tissue, and it seems every day we read about a startup or planned project.
The global market is growing by about one million tonnes annually. This was the message from RISI’s renowned tissue principal Esko Uutela at the first TAPPI/RISI Tissue Event held in Miami in October 2017. Plans are already afoot for the next conference, to be held in October in Wisconsin (see article p. 28).
At the same conference we heard about expansions from two of these emerging areas: Argentina (Papelera San Andrés de Giles) and South Africa (Universal Paper and Plastic). As disposable income grows, people want what they see or hear about in the media. They want what other people have. This includes tissue products.
However, Uutela also cautioned that although the market is growing, in North America, an expected 800,000 tonnes of new capacity may be too much. Some older mills may be forced to close. We have already read that Kimberly-Clark plans to close its Fullerton, CA, mill. This may only be the first step. The rise of the private label over the national brand may also force the Big Three to take a closer look at their assets.
As well as the Tissue Event in Wisconsin, I am also looking forward to this year’s version of iT’s Tissue in Lucca, Italy, to be held in late June. We are an official media partner, and a preview of the event is on p. 43.
As well as visiting the equipment suppliers, I also hope to take in a couple of mills that have recently completed projects. And, of course, being in Tuscany in late June is reward in itself.
Elsewhere in this issue, we see how Cascades is expanding its presence on the West Coast with the grand opening of its new converting facility in Scappoose, OR. One of the suppliers to this project, Edlon, is also featured in this issue.
As producers look to find new markets, e.g., graphic paper makers converting to board grades or entering the tissue sector, so too must the support sector keep innovating. Canada’s pulp and paper research institute, FPInnovations (formerly Paprican) has an extensive roll testing facility that is now focusing on tissue (while still maintaining its graphic paper capabilities).
Research leader Frédéric Parent, who spoke at the Miami conference, took Tissue360° on a tour of the facilities. A 2015 rebuild of the equipment allowed the roll testing facility to handle low basis weight papers such as tissue. Already, it has a long list of tissue clients it has helped overcome problems. Its story begins on p. 31.
GRAEME RODDEN, Editor
KEN PATRICK, Editor Emeritus
LARRY N. MONTAGUE, President & CEO, TAPPI
JAN BOTTIGLIERI, Editorial Director, Paper360°
MONICA SHAW, Editorial Director, TAPPI Journal
PROJECT SUPPORT SPECIALIST
BK Publication Design