Why does paper continue to be an indispensable medium of information?

Changing consumer habits, driven by technology, are a constant; the need to achieve “net zero” commitments, ever more urgent. News publishers have navigated a global health crisis, which suppressed demand and reduced supply, a global logistics crunch, and now the consequences of war in Ukraine.

by WAN-IFRA External Contributor | June 8, 2022

By Ruud van den Berg

To work in publishing or paper production, you need strong nerves and deep reserves of agility and resilience.

But the thirst for news and insight does not diminish; the need for accurate and independent media is ever more vital.

The war in Ukraine is causing incalculable human suffering; the news media operating there have proven again why we must value and defend press freedom. We can be proud that our products can contribute to freedom of opinion.

The death of print media has been announced almost every year over the last decades; but the truth is, it continues to play an essential role, alongside the digital channels. Print continues to dominate paid newspaper circulation and the written press remains a more trusted medium than internet and social networks.

Not surprisingly, therefore, we continue to see publishers innovate and integrate (across platforms) and find new ways to inform, engage and create value.

This requires a partner in the paper supply industry that can step up to deliver the flexibility and commitment to meet constantly changing demands.

Yet the paper industry itself has been undergoing dramatic consolidation. As paper producers struggle to remain profitable in the graphic markets, capacity adjustments have accelerated, resulting in machine closures and conversions.

This has triggered the uneven balance between supply and demand that we experience today; where a normalised demand meets a capacity-adjusted supply. That was the reality before the war in Ukraine; the imposition of sanctions and limitation of supply have caused dramatic price increases for energy and other raw materials.

UPM remains committed to the newsprint industry on a global scale. We have continued to deliver paper throughout these unique past 2 years, irrespective of the impact of the pandemic on our own operations, the challenges in the supply chain and more recently, the unprecedented price increases for energy and fibres.

We have done our best to ensure our customers can run their operations by constantly evolving the way we work. That means ensuring  a stringent focus on cost management and continuously advancing the flexibility of our operations. We maintain a laser focus on changing consumer patterns so that we are ready to deliver un-matched experience and expertise.

Meanwhile, publishers are setting ambitious net zero targets, and we are fully committed to support that endeavour. We believe that sustainability is the foundation for long term value creation, and we are working hard to reduce our footprint. Investing in green energy at our mills and sourcing green energy translates directly into reduced scope 3 emissions for our customers.

Paper is a sustainable product by default. In Europe, 80% of newsprint is dependent on recycled fibre.  Furthermore, active and sustainable forest management contributes positively to climate impact, sustains biodiversity, and supports rural communities.

There is no doubt that “change will be a constant” in the publishing and paper industry. We look forward to working with publishers as they continue to uphold the vital role they play in a society.

The author, Ruud van den Berg, is Senior VP, Sales, UPM Communication Papers

Image by congerdesign, via Pixabay.

WAN-IFRA External Contributor

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