After the closure of a large pulp and paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, industry leaders throughout the Maritimes are signaling out a key tactic that can save the region’s struggling forestry sector: innovation.
Mark Arsenault, executive director and CEO of New Brunswick’s Forest Products Association says that mills in his province have been actively seeking new techniques, new product developments and new innovations for years in order to maintain a strong presence in the Maritime forestry sector.
“AV Nackawic is making a dissolving pulp that’s being used for rayon and making clothing and that’s being shipped to India,” he told the CBC this week. “Twin Rivers, which is in Edmundston, is actually making a…higher grade paper that’s used in medical products and food packaging or in special labeling…so again a higher value product.”
Despite the fact that New Brunswick has lost half of its pulp mills in the last seven years, mills in New Brunswick have “responded to market pressures with innovations that will keep them afloat,” Arsenault said.
Another one of those innovations lies in the potential of biomass energy– as we wrote about last week.
Looking beyond long-established pulp and paper production in order to thrive in the Canadian landscape isn’t a new realization. The move from traditional products to specialty pulp products, such as dissolving pulp – a product sold predominately to the textile industry for the creation of rayon – is a strategy that is proving to be effective in historic pulp and paper regions such as the Ottawa valley.
“The Ottawa region’s forest products firms are rebounding as the industry shifts from an emphasis on pulp and newsprint to specialty, high-end products,” the Ottawa Citizen reported earlier this year.