Around 400 million metric tons of paper is produced and used across the world annually. A little over 2 pieces of paper is needed per hour for each individual on our planet. This is according to the current usage of paper globally. Even paperless offices use much paper despite predictions that the advent of computers would reduce paper consumption.
It is important to understand that paper is not just used for office supplies. It is needed for a variety of purposes. Among the essential requirements of paper are bags, packaging, newspapers, books, magazines, paper towels, gift wraps, and labels. Even currency notes are made of paper.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) prepares a yearly report on international pulp and paper capacities. About 30 countries represent 85% of the paper production capabilities of the world. Here are some of the major paper producing countries in recent times:
The country that made paper for the first time is the top producer of paper today. In the year 2004, the country’s total production of paper was 49.5 million metric tons. The 2015 data shows that the production of paper has more than doubled just 11 years later. The production of paper according to the 2015 data was 107.100 million metric tons.
This includes 8.850 million metric tons of sanitary and household paper. China’s paper exports also increased between the years 2011 and 2015. The growth predictions show that China may soon overtake Germany as the number one paper exporter.
2. United States of America
The paper industry in the United States began in 1730, which makes it older than the country itself. There was a time when the United States was the top paper producer and consumer in the world. Today, the country is in the second position with an overall production of 72.397 million metric tons of paper.
Recycled or reclaimed paper makes up 66.8% of its paper consumption. The United States recovered 52 million tons of paper in 2015. This was nearly 315 pounds of paper per person in the country.
In Japan, the papermakers are greatly respected and considered national treasures. This explains why there are beautiful art papers, such as Unryu, Chiyogami, or Ito-iri in the country. As technology reduced the demand for paper-based products in Japan, the domestic paper manufacturing industry has experienced some decline.
Nevertheless, it ranks third with an overall production of 26.228 million metric tons of paper according to 2015 data.
With a yearly production of 22.608 million metric tons, Germany is certainly not the world’s top producer of paper. However, it is currently the leading exporter of paper in the world. What really keeps the country’s paper manufacturing industry strong is the increasing demand for packaging material.
5. South Korea
Contrary to the fears of analysts, paper manufacturing in South Korea has not decreased. In 2015, 11.569 million metric tons of paper was produced in the country. This was only a slight drop from the 11.653 million metric tons the previous year.
This South American country has a considerable reputation for reforestation. It produces around 10.357 million metric tons of paper annually. Several world records are held by the paper and pulp mills in the country. A mill in the province of Mato Grosso does Sul is believed to be the world’s largest single-line mill.
It produces craft paper by using plantation eucalyptus as raw material. Another mill located in Tres Lagoas breaks its own world records frequently for the daily production of pulp.