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43 Paper Industry Statistics, Trends & Analysis

Paper is one of the world’s most essential materials. Most people use it each day for a variety of purposes around the world. Over 419 million metric tons get produced each year, with over 50% of that figure attributed to packaging items. About one-third of it goes to the graphic paper segment.

Japan, China, and the United States are the largest producers of papers in the world today, accounting for over half of the market. Germany and the United States are the leading import and export countries respectively.

International Paper is one of the largest companies in the industry, generating over $23 billion in revenues in 2018. Kimberly-Clark supported the global economy with another $18.5 billion. When American forest, paper, and packaging industry revenues are evaluated together, they contribute over $96 billion to the economy.

Despite these massive figures, consumers used over 4 million metric tons of paper more than what the industry produced in 2017.

Interesting Paper Industry Statistics

#1. 40% of the world’s logging industry activities goes into the making of paper. This figure is expected to reach 50% in the next decade. (The Paperless Project)

#2. The global consumption of paper products has risen by over 400% over the past four decades, with 35% of the trees harvested during this time used for industrial manufacturing of new products. (The Paperless Project)

#3. Since 1994, the use of paper products has increased from 92 million tons to 423 million tons. Since 2014, the figure has doubled from 208 million tons of consumption to generate record industry profits. (The Paperless Project)

#4. The paper industry (including pulp processing) is the fourth-largest industrial user of energy in the United States at 6.4 EJ. It is the fifth-largest segment when looked at from a global perspective, accounting for 4% of energy use. (EIA)

#5. Over 13 million tons of uncoated, free-sheet paper gets produced each year by the paper industry in the United States. (AF&PA)

#6. The U.S. paper industry produces about 9.6 million tons of coated paper for consumers to use annually. (AF&PA)

#7. About 4.6 million tons of uncoated free-sheet paper goes int office reprographics needs. Another 3.29 million tons heads toward commercial printing processes, while 1.89 million is made into business forms. (AF&PA)

#8. The paper industry in the United States produces about 1.4 million tons of envelopes each year to support the paper industry. (AF&PA)

#9. About 626,000 tons of books get printed because of the manufacturing processes developed by the U.S. paper industry. (AF&PA)

#10. North America is the world’s largest per-capita consumer of paper products, with each person responsible for using 213 kg each year. When Americans are evaluated by themselves, the rate rises to 229 kg. The global average is only 57 kilograms annually. (Statista)

#11. China is the world’s largest overall consumer of paper products, going through 113 million metric tons annually when cardboard and paperboard items are included in the statistics. The United States consumes about 71 million metric tons each year, putting Americans in second place. (Statista)

#12. About 53 million short tons of paper and paperboard get recovered each year in the United States through recycling processes. The American recovery rate currently stands at almost 70%, which is significantly higher than what it was in 1990 at 34%. (Statista)

#13. Over $56 billion in value-added manufacturing reaches the American economy because of the presence of the paper industry. The gross output by paper mills in the United States at $44. 4 billion by itself. (Statista)

#14. 35 countries are responsible for 85% of the world’s production of paper and paperboard products. (FAO)

#15. A single pulp and paper mill can consume over 3.5 million tons of wood annually. Over 80 mills in the U.S. Southwest alone can produce over 122,000 tons of pulp each day. (Dogwood Alliance)

#16. Intensive commercial logging has removed over 90% of the native forests in British Columbia, which is home to one of only seven temperate rainforest ecosystems in the world. (World Wildlife Fund)

#17. Over 1,900 species found in British Columbia are at risk because of the activities of loggers and the demands of the paper industry, with 90% of the logging happening in the ancient forests of the province. (BC Ministry of Forests)

#18. Over 90% of the valley bottoms on Vancouver Island that produce spruce and fir trees over 80 meters in height and 18 meters at girth have already been logged. (Wilderness Committee)

#19. Despite the Ponderosa pine forests in British Columbia being some of the rarest wild areas in the province, less than 5% of it receives any kind of protection against development or logging. (Wilderness Committee)

#20. Most of Canada’s forests are directly seeded or replanted using native species, with over 347,000 hectares in total planted in 2012 with another 100,000 hectares seeded. (Pulp and Paper Sourcing)

#21. The pulp and paper industry in Japan has a total supply of 16.2 million metric tons, with consumption being about 150,000 metric tons higher than what was made in 2017. (Japan Paper Association)

#22. About 64% of the products produced by the industry in Japan comes from recovered paper. Pulp is responsible for 35.7% of industry activities. (Japan Paper Association)

#23. Switching from virgin to recycled content paper can reduce total energy consumption by 27%, reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 47%, and reduce particulate emissions by 28%. (Green America)

#24. A switch from virgin to recycled content can reduce wastewater produced by the paper industry by 33%, create solid waste reductions by 54%, and eliminate wood consumption entirely. (Green America)

#25. One ton of 30% post-consumer copy paper represents 40 cases, which is the equivalent of 7.2 trees. It takes 2,100 gallons of water and 1,230 kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce this product. (Californians Against Waste)

#26. 100% post-consumer copy paper can save 7,000 gallons of water, 4,100-kilowatt hours of electricity, and 24 trees for every one ton of products produced. (Californians Against Waste)

#27. When paper decomposes in a landfill, it encourages the release of methane. This gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and over 26 million tons of paper waste go into American landfills each year. 16% of a landfill’s total space is dedicated to the management of industry products. (Statista)

#28. Junk mail is one of the leading contributors of paper waste in the world today. It is responsible for the logging of 2.6 million trees each year, and the average household receives six unwanted items each day. That means the industry produces enough to reach the moon in just five days. (HubSpot)

#29. Junk mail is responsible for producing 1 billion pounds of waste that go into landfills each year, even when recycling efforts are at a 45% rate. (HubSpot)

#30. 92% of people say that they discard the junk mail they receive without ever looking at it. 90% also report that they would like to see a reduction of what they see in their mailbox each year. (HubSpot)

#31. 71% of the paper that reaches store shelves each year comes from timber and logging activities that happen in forests instead of using tree farms. (Green America)

#32. Tree farms and plantations that support the paper industry have 90% fewer species growing on the land that was prepared to create the commercial growing opportunity in the first place. (Green America)

#33. 80% of the forest fires that happen in Indonesia in some years are intended to clear land so that palm oil production and pulpwood creation activities can happen. (Green America)

#34. There are 675 active European firms that support the global paper industry, with 891 mills producing products. These figures represent a 31% decline since 2000. (CEPI)

#35. European employment in the pulp and paper industry has declined from over 411,000 in 1991 to only 176,000 in 2017. There has been a 37% decline in direct opportunities since 2000 for this segment of the industry. (CEPI)

#36. Despite the decline in operations and employment, the total production capacity for the European paper industry has risen from 39.5 million tons in 1991 to 42.6 million tons in 2017. (CEPI)

#37. Market pulp production in Europe has risen by more than 24% since the year 2000, going from 11.4 million to 14.19 million. (CEPI)

#38. The total paper and board production capacity for the industry in Europe is approximately 101 million tons, with firms achieving a 91.3% operating rate. (CEPI)

#39. About 56.8 million tons of paper is collected for recycling in Europe each year, which reflects a 30% increase in this activity since 2000. The current rate for recycling paper on the continent is 72.3%. It was only 40.3% in 1990. (CEPI)

#40. About 100,000 people currently work in the pulp, paper, and paperboard mills currently active in the United States. The average salary for workers in the industry is more than $68,000 per year. (DataUSA)

#41. The average age for an employee in the American paper industry is 45.5. (DataUSA)

#42. The top areas for employment in the U.S. paper industry are all found in Wisconsin. Outagamie, Winnebago, Portage, Juneau, Adams, and Wood Counties all employ more people in the industry that expected given the overall labor pool and the national size of the industry itself. (DataUSA)

#43. Less than 20% of the workforce in the paper industry are women, and this may be a reflection of the wage gap that exists in the United States. Men earn an average salary of more than $71,000 in common jobs while women earn only $57,000. (DataUSA)

Paper Industry Trends and Analysis

Despite the potential for environmental harm when production activities are left unregulated, paper is still a renewable resource. Recovery efforts are a crucial component within the industry if it wants to continue growing to meet the demands of the developing world. Over 53 million short tons of products were recovered in 2018, and paper continues to have one of the highest recycling rates in the world.

Those figures may seem impressive, but the recovery rate continues to be about 15% of the overall production levels experienced by the industry. Part of the reason for this issue is that over 50% of global production goes into packaging products.

Digitization must become a priority for the industry. Estimates suggest that over $25 billion in overhead could be saved in the next decade by encouraging a digital transformation.

If we can find new ways to recover unwanted one-time shipping items produced by the paper industry, then we can open up new markets for active agencies. The industry could support more environmental efforts that save the world’s ancient forests. We could achieve these goals without reducing consumption levels. If this outcome occurs in the next 10-year forecast period, then the anticipated CAGR could be as high as 7%.

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