Despite the U.S. paper mill industry being valued at almost $35 billion dollars in 2021, it’s increasingly hard to make a profit in.
The last several decades have not been kind to bottom lines, with declines in paper grades, rising raw material costs, and a major shift to digital communications that accounted for a drop in demand.
As a result, many mills were left struggling with financial issues. Some declared bankruptcy.
To prevent themselves from going under, mills are moving their production from paper grades to more profitable materials.
For example, Domtar shifted one of its paper mills from producing printing and writing (P&W) paper grades to recycled packaging in August 2020. This is due in part to the demand for manufacturing items like containerboard growing, allowing mills to maximize profits.
So where are these products being used?
Look at the company Boxed Water Is Better. They use paper to produce a plastic alternative, 100% recycled bottle. This direction is one that many popular brands and companies are shifting towards.
At this point, mills are playing a game of ‘follow the money.’