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The pulp and paper industry is one of the most important industries
in the world. It supplies an essential product - paper - to
over 5 billion people worldwide. But most people don't know
a lot about the industry. Today we'll take a look at where
paper comes from, and how it is made, and I think you will
find that the paper industry is one of the most fascinating
industries around. There are so many interesting things to
tell you about paper, it's hard to know where to begin! I
guess the best place to start is the beginning... Back in
This is when experts now believe paper was first made. New
evidence shows that the Chinese used old chopped-up fishing
nets to make the world's very first paper. Three hundred years
later, around 100 A.D., a Chinese scholar and government official
named Ts'ai Lun made paper out of tree bark and scraps of
linen and hemp. Because he documented his invention, Ts'ai
Lun is generally known as the man who "invented"
The art of papermaking was kept secret in China
for centuries. It was not until 793 A.D. that paper was made
outside the Orient. The process slowly spread through Africa
and Europe in the 10th century, and finally reached England
around 1494, two years after Columbus sailed to America.
Finally, in 1690, the first U.S. paper mill was built at Germantown,
Pennsylvania by William Rittenhouse. The Rittenhouse mill
made about 100 pounds of paper a day. At this time, paper
was made by hand from old cotton and linen rags, a slow and
labor-intensive process. As the demand for paper grew, it
became harder and harder to find enough old rags to meet the
demand. It wasn't until the late 1860s that Americans first
began making paper from wood.
Paper - Then and Now
In the year 1900, the U.S. Paper industry produced an estimated
14 thousand tons of paper a day. Today's U.S. Paper industry
produces over 250 thousand tons of paper and paperboard every
day. Every year, each man, woman, and child in America uses
about 700 pounds of paper. And over 350 million magazines,
two billion books,, and 24 billion newspapers are published
in America every year.
When you think of paper products, you probably
think of things like newspapers, notebooks, magazines, and
posters. But about 5,000 other products are also made of paper
and papermaking by-products. Can you think of any?
Board games, candy wrappers, money, microwave packaging -
even your laminated desk top - are all examples of products
made from paper.
Pulp chemicals products
The wood products industry has found uses for
every part of a tree. In fact, nearly 100% of a harvested
tree is used for some purpose.
Many important products are made from papermaking byproducts
These are the natural chemicals, such as resins, which are
contained in wood. This picture shows just a few of the many
products made with pulp chemicals.
Paper is made from natural fibers called cellulose. The primary
source of cellulose in the U.S. today is wood. Many types
of wood can be used to make paper. The two main types are
hardwood such as oak, and softwood, such as pine. This slide
shows a combination of hardwood and softwood fibers.
Softwood fibers are over twice as long as hardwood
fibers. In general, the longer the fiber, the stronger the
paper will be. Therefore, softwood fibers are best used for
paper or paperboard which requires strength, such as grocery
bags and boxes. Short fibers, on the other hand, help make
paper smooth. A blend of hardwood and softwood fiber is ideal
for making printing and writing paper, which needs to be both
strong and smooth.
Did you know that other plants besides trees
are used to make paper?
Non-wood plants such as straw, cotton, kenaf, and bamboo are sometimes used to make paper. In countries such as India which do not have an abundant supply of trees, these plants are a good alternate source of fiber.
Another source of fiber for papermaking is recovered paper
collected for recycling. Recovered paper is a great source
of fiber because it is readily available and easily recycled.
And, recycling diverts wastepaper from landfills, saving valuable
landfill space. Over 40% of the paper which is manufactured
in the U. S. today is recovered for recycling by the paper
But recycling will never entirely replace using
trees for papermaking. One reason is that there is simply
not enough recovered paper to meet the world's demand. Some
paper is too contaminated to be reused. Plus, fibers can only
be recycled five to seven times before they become too short
and weak to be used in papermaking. In time, recycled fibers
become so short that they wash out of the pulp during the
So How is Paper Made? from fiber? Let's take
First, wood chips or recovered paper are combined with water
and sometimes chemicals and "cooked" until the cellulose
fibers separate from each other. This mushy solution of water
and fiber is called pulp. This picture shows a handful of
dry pulp. Sometimes, fillers and additives are added to the
pulp to make the finished paper more glossy, absorbent, or
The paper machine
Watery pulp is sprayed from a huge vat called a headbox onto
a giant plastic screen which is moving quickly around the
front end of the paper machine. The fibers in the pulp bond
to each other and form a watery sheet of paper. As the pulp
is carried along the screen, water begins to drain out. The
sheet of paper is then pressed between a series of felt-covered
and heated rollers to remove more water and to make the paper
smooth and dry.
The finished roll of paper
A finished roll of paper can measure up to 30 feet long and
weigh as much as 20 tons! The rolls of paper are cut into
smaller rolls, and are then ready to be converted into paper
products like boxes, books, and magazines.
A Sustainable Industry
So does all this papermaking mean we're running
out of trees? Absolutely not! Most people don't realize that
much of the raw material used to make paper actually comes
from sawdust and wood chips left behind by lumber manufacturing.
When timber companies do harvest trees for paper, they do
not just cut them down and leave the land bare. That wouldn't
make sense. Timber companies need trees to keep their companies
Most trees used for paper come from forests called managed
timberlands. Timber companies practice sustainable forestry
to manage these timberlands by replanting more trees than
they harvest. Today, two new trees are planted for every one
tree harvested in the United States.
Some managed timberlands are tree farms. A tree farm is much
like a garden, where trees are planted and harvested over
and over again. This cycle can go on forever, so that we will
never "run out" of trees. In fact, many forests
might not exist at all if trees weren't planted and harvested
These sustainable forestry practices ensure
that we will always have plenty of trees - and paper - to
enjoy - today and for years to come.
The forest products industry is deeply committed to protecting
our environment. The industry has worked for years with federal
and state governments to ensure the cleanliness of the air
and water in paper mill communities. Every year, the forest
products industry spends more than $1 billion on environmental
research, equipment, and technology.
People in Paper
People with all kinds of interests and skills are part of
the paper industry. Some work at companies which manufacture
pulp, paper and paperboard. Others work to convert the finished
paper and paperboard into products such as boxes and food
Still others manufacture the equipment, chemicals, and computer
programs that are used at manufacturing facilities.
There are forestry professionals who are responsible for caring
for trees before and after they are planted.
And there are people who do research to develop new and improved
products and papermaking processes.
Today, approximately 700,000 people are employed by the paper
and related industries in the United States.
I think you will agree that paper is an essential part of
all of our lives. The paper industry is dedicated to providing
quality products while protecting our environment and natural
resources. It is truly one the world's greatest industries.
We would like to thank the following
for providing slides for this presentation:
Consolidated Papers Inc.
Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking
USDA Forest Products Lab
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