Pulp and paper has been struggling for more than two decades. Mills have closed, and the industry as a whole has contracted. Some mills, though, are beginning to get a bit more creative, as a recent Iowa Public Television story highlighted.
Mississippi is one of the leading producers in the forest industry. The industry made up $1.16 billion of the state’s economy in 2015, and the lower value trees are the ones that have always been dedicated to the pulp and paper industry. As the decline in that industry hit, though, the forest industry began to suffer as well. The introduction of the wood pellet market, though, has virtually saved an industry.
A Bit of History
Pellet production in North America initially began in 1973 during the oil crisis. It was immediately recognized as a viable source of fuel that was a solid alternative to oil. Once the crisis disappeared, though, so, too, did the need for the wood pellets. That dynamic shifted once again, though, as people began to look toward green energy solutions, particularly in Europe. There, wood is replacing coal (on a large scale) to produce both heat and electricity, as many government consider wood to be cleaner and more climate friendly than coal. Exports of pellets have doubled in just a few short years, and those numbers are only expected to increase substantially in the near future.
Today, one quick look at the headlines and you’ll find many once closed paper mills have been reactivated and retooled to provide the wood pellets this growing industry is looking for. Hundreds who thought the pulp and paper industry may be nearing an end are finding new rays of hope thanks to this shift.
No matter what may happen with the industry as a whole, Komax will be there with the technology to support its growth in any direction.