Death of pulp and paper in Canada?

What a sad ending…

The pulp and paper industry is something close to me, having grown un in a p&p town and having a dad work there my entire life and having dinner conversations about recovery boilers… I’ve blogged about it a few times.

AbitibiBowater, the world’s largest newsprint producer just filed for bankruptcy yesterday.

Can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Globe has a good follow up story on how the industry shifted looong time ago and the management just hasn’t kept up.

U.S. newsprint demand has been falling for more than 20 years. After peaking at 12.3 million tonnes in 1987, sales were just 6.8 million tonnes in 2008…In a sense, AbitibiBowater has been hurtling toward this moment for the past 20 years as the decline in global newsprint demand set in – at first, gradually, and now precipitously.

Going back to a post from last Dec., I wrote Canadian Pulp & Paper industry: a problem is just an opportunity in disguise.

the industry’s failure isn’t so much a market-based (even with our extraordinarily high dollar), it’s not even a demand-based failure (paper consumption is up, but not newsprint- our main product) -IT’S VISION FAILURE.

My point (granted, much of this is thanks to conversations with my Daddio) is that the forest industry has plenty of potential in developing “new” innovative products (didn’t they get the hint after 20 years of decreased demand???!) and BIOENERGY. Yes, pulp and paper industry is the best suited to take over (sustainably!) the bioenergy industry.

Grrr.. it just makes me mad to see that executive direction from the top has led an industry giant flailing – and small towns and local communities across the rural north fighting to survive.

That being said, of course a giant company is going to fail. Isn’t that one of the lessons we’re learning right now with the credit crisis??? The “too big to fail” idea is pathetic and goes against the rules of capitalism.  Companies just shouldn’t be allowed to get that big.

So, I wonder how AbitibiBowater will play out. 

I hope that there’s a breaking apart of the giant and with smaller, more flexible management allowing individual plants to stay open – AND START CHANGING THEIR STRATEGY.

Instead of just letting this historic (and vital!) Canadian industry die, we need new leadership at the helm of this industry and we need lots.

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One thought on “Death of pulp and paper in Canada?

  1. Jay Godse says:

    Abitibi may be dead, but the people are not. If there is a market for bio-energy, new companies will come in, hire the people and make money.

    Individual plants will probably emerge under new management or as part of another company. It’s not all good, but it’s not all bad either.

    Fur trading was a historic and vital industry. It, for the most part, died. Other industries took its place. There is nothing wrong if the same happens to parts of Pulp & Paper.

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