indicates the size of the workforce directly employed in pulp and paper production and converting operations in 27 countries, which together represent about 85% of world pulp and paper employment and over 90% of mills and production. In countries which consume most of what they produce (e.g., United States, Germany, France), converting operations provide two jobs for every one in pulp and paper production.
The labour force in the pulp and paper industry mainly holds full-time jobs within traditional management structures, though some mills in Finland, the United States and elsewhere have had success with flexible working hours and self-managed job-rotation teams. Because of their high capital costs, most pulping operations run continuously and require shift work; this is not true of converting plants. Working hours vary with the patterns of employment prevalent in each country, with a range from about 1,500 to more than 2,000 hours per year. In 1991, incomes in the industry ranged from US$1,300 (unskilled workers in Kenya) to US$70,000 per year (skilled production personnel in the United States) (ILO 1992). Male workers predominate in this industry, with women usually representing only 10 to 20% of the labour force. China and India may form the upper and lower ends of the range with 35% and 5% women respectively.
In many ways, the easy choices have already been made. In spite of the pulp and paper industry's consistent performance improvements, in the future it will no longer be business as usual.
Customer demand is another factor that has changed the way the industry operates. At the vanguard are customer demands for more products with recycled content. The pulp and paper industry also has responded to demands for reduced packaging, and in the United States, customer demand is developing for ECF (elemental chlorine free), TCF, and even unbleached papers.
On the resource side, many pulp and paper companies have voluntarily changed their management practices to provide more multiple-use values, such as wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. In cases where forest land is home to an endangered or threatened species, many industrial landowners have taken the initiative to establish species-protection programs that are also compatible with commercial timber management.
Until the early 1980s, disposal of solid waste from pulp and paper production was not a problem. For one thing, the waste is considered nonhazardous by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976. In addition, landfill rules required mainly the control of vermin and litter, access control, control of drainage, safe operation, and earthen cover. More recently, new rules on waste characterization, groundwater monitoring, lining and leachate control in some cases, and financial assurance have been added. It is difficult to get a permit for a new landfill today because of the public perception that there is something inherently dangerous about landfills. Therefore, there is an impending capacity shortage at many locations. Such local shortages are driving the exploration of technologies to reduce the volume of solid waste generated or to find new uses for waste.
End products of pulp and paper mills depend on the pulping process, and may include market pulp and various types of paper or paperboard products. For example, the relatively weak mechanical pulp is converted into single-use products such as newspapers and tissue. Kraft pulp is converted into multi-use paper products such as high-quality writing paper, books and grocery bags. Sulphite pulp, which is primarily cellulose, can be used in a series of diverse end-products including specialty paper, rayon, photographic film, TNT, plastics, adhesives, and even ice cream and cake mixes. Chemi-mechanical pulps are exceptionally stiff, ideal for the structural support needed for corrugated container board. The fibres in pulp from recycled paper are usually shorter, less flexible and less water permeable, and can therefore not be used for high-quality paper products. Recycled paper is therefore mainly used for the production of soft paper products like tissue paper, toilet paper, paper towelling and napkins.
One of the key strengths of the U.S. pulp and paper industry has been its treatment of wastewater. For the past 30 years, long before they were required by law to do so, U.S. mills have been installing secondary biological treatment systems that reduce biological oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids. At locations where land area is available, aeration stabilization and activated sludge technology provide relatively low-cost ways to cut BOD by more than 80 percent. Oxygen-enriched technology became available in the early 1970s in time for use in space-limited facilities. Extensive study and optimization over the last 2 decades have raised the efficiency of these same plants to around 90 percent.
Although similar in principle to making pulp sheets, paper making is considerably more complex. Some mills use a variety of different pulps to optimize paper quality (e.g., a mix of hardwood, softwood, kraft, sulphite, mechanical or recycled pulps). Depending on the type of pulp used, a series of steps is necessary prior to forming the paper sheet. Generally, dried market pulp is rehydrated, while high-consistency pulp from storage is diluted. Pulp fibres may be beaten to increase the fibre-bonding area and thereby improve paper sheet strength. The pulp is then blended with wet-end additives () and passed through a final set of screens and cleaners. The pulp is then ready for the paper machine.
Of course, it takes capital to handle water and to pay for the energy to heat it and move it around. This has been a major factor in the development of new technologies. From a water-use perspective, there are few financial, legal, or physical reasons for the industry to lower water use in paper mills. In some situations, water conservation has been pursued to reduce the costs of waste treatment, which is largely a function of the volume of water treated. The main impetus behind conservation efforts to date, however, has been the general principle of environmental stewardship that less is better.
The flow spreader and headbox distribute a thin suspension (1 to 3%) of refined pulp onto a moving wire (similar to a pulp machine, only at a much higher speed, sometimes in excess of 55 km/h) which forms the fibres into a thin felted sheet. The sheet moves through a series of press rolls to the dryer section, where a series of steam-heated rolls evaporate most of the remaining water. Hydrogen bonds between the fibres have fully developed at this stage. Finally, the paper is calendered and reeled. Calendering is the process by which the paper surface is ironed smooth and its thickness reduced. The dried, calendered paper sheet is wound onto a reel, labelled and transported to the warehouse ( ; note waste paper under reel, and unenclosed operator control panel). Dry-end additives can be added before calendering on the paper machine or in separate off-machine coating operations in the converting sector of the industry.