Domtar-Eddy, AbitibiBowater, and Smurfit-Stone are among some of the paper mills recently shut down along the Ottawa River, a region that has been known for almost 150 years as Canada’s home for the forestry industry.
Many mills that have closed (or are currently in danger of closing) are feeling the effects of a dying newsprint industry.
“The relentless march of the Internet into every corner of human communications is destroying demand for newsprint,” says an article in The Ottawa Citizen.
Coupled with low pulp market costs, the once lucrative industry is falling short.
But not all pulp and paper mills in the region are failing. In fact, mills that are straying away from traditional pulp products – like newsprint – are finding growth amidst a struggling industry.
The demand for specialized pulp – like “fluff” pulp used to make products such as paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and diapers – is increasing globally.
“If you look at tissue, if you look at toweling…those markets are actually growing,” Domtar chief executive told an industry conference. “We see a long-term pretty positive trend for pulp.”
Another company, Vancouver’s Fortress Paper Ltd., is also seeing the benefits of specialized pulp production. After purchasing a near-bankrupt hardwood pulp mill in Thurso, Quebec, the company began converting the mill’s equipment to produce dissolving pulp, a product used in the textile industry for the creation of rayon.
Rayon is in high demand worldwide due to another struggling industry – cotton – and Fortress has demonstrated that innovators in the forestry sector can reap the rewards of forward-thinking, “outside the box” strategies.