Technological innovation has changed the way people live in ways we didn’t think were possible. Today, businesses have gone digital. From having all their files stored in a massive stock room and employees signing their contracts with pen and paper, every single file is now digitally made and stored in computer systems. The education system is taking advantage of these innovations as well. Gone are the days when students had to carry dozens of books to class and the use of mobile phones and tablets was prohibited on school premises. Now, schools all over the globe are implementing digital learning and the use of electronic devices is now considered necessary to educate and produce the innovators of tomorrow.
Every day, more and more innovations are being developed to make our lives easier. But the other side of that coin sees the paper and packaging industry struggling to survive this shift. In the wake of digitisation, is the paper industry dying?
How digitisation changed our paper needs
10 years ago, people were a lot more dependent on paper. Before, one would usually select a book to take on, say, a long train ride. Today, one can carry thousands of book options in their e-reading devices. Before, students would actively take notes during lectures, but today, all they need do is sit back and wait for a digital copy of the lecture after the period. Before, a newspaper would be read from cover to cover for updates on current events. Today, a quick Google search does the job.
Despite the global population climbing to 10 billion, the demand for paper products is relatively flat. Experts predict that paper consumption will grow by less than 1 per cent annually. This decline can be explained by the digital transformation and more businesses going paperless.
How the paper industry can adapt
The digital age has had an uneven impact on the paper industry. Newsprint, graphic, and printing presses have borne the brunt of the impact and have had to find ways to create value for their industries in this increasingly digital world.
Meanwhile, tissue and packaging businesses are experiencing healthy growth. Despite the fact that these businesses are thriving, a vital aspect of the paperless movement is the desire to take care of the environment. As such, these businesses must actively take steps to become greener for people to keep using the paper products they manufacture.
Studies show that more consumers today choose to purchase sustainable products, manufactured in a way that’s less damaging to the environment. In the paper business, papermakers should use energy-efficient machinery such as liquid ring vacuum pumps that continuously operate at their peak with less power consumption, for instance. When it comes to manufacturing tissue, the elimination of chlorine in the process can also further reduce the negative impact in production.
While digital innovations are truly beneficial to the environment and highly convenient for all of us, there is still an obvious need for paper. The industry may be struggling, but it is clearly far from dying out.