Yolanda Simonsis is a 38-year veteran of the packaging and converting industries. She has held past editorial positions with two former publications of Delta Communications and Cahners...more

Conflicting Perceptions over Paper Industry Growth

It appears there are some conflicting opinions about whether the paper industry is shrinking or growing at a fairly healthy pace–not just in Wisconsin where the paper industry continues to thrive, but in the whole of the US which increased exports to the world by 24.3% from 2009 to 2011.

My friend and colleague Dr. Dene Taylor of SPF-Inc. (and author of PFFC's "On Print" column) shared a link with me for an opinion piece by Jeff Landin, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council, that I now offer to you by clicking here.

Landin remarks that Wisconsin accounts for 3.7% of US total exports in the paper manufacturing sub-sector, and it "experienced the fastest growth rate, 43.7% since 2009" among Wisconsin's eight competitor states. Not bad.

Yet Landin says a study by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) claims that the state's "reliance on manufacturing, and specifically the paper industry, has led to a slow growth economy."

Seems odd that while Wisconsin has been the leading state in the US for producing paper, the WEDC is simultaneously accusing its own paper industry as the culprit for dragging down the state's economy. How can it be both?

Perhaps what maddens Landin most is how little policymakers know about the paper industry. . . but quite honestly, for the most part, what do policymakers know about any industry? I guess they know about as much as they need to know in order to win corporate favor when elections come rolling along.

I do take issue, however, with Landin's comment about policy-makers not piling on environmental regulations that have "significant cost but no benefit." Now I don't see the benefit of regulating for the pure sake of regulating. But let's face it, a lot of what the converting industry does, including that of the paper-making business, is frequently not all that clean, and there certainly can be some benefits resulting from environmental regulations.

True, such regulation typically involves monetary investment, but at what price is the good health of any state's population worth sacrificing at the expense of corporate profits?

There ought to be some balance in all this.

Take a look at Landin's commentary. It's thought-provoking on many levels.

My friends call me. . .


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