Letter: The truth about paper




A dozen years ago, before the Great Recession, I was working on a project in which I worked with many of the world’s largest paper makers. I remember one conversation with the director of engineering at International Paper (the largest company — a U.S.-based multinational).

He mentioned that he would never recommend that his kids enter the paper industry, “It’s a tough business, only getting tougher.” He also mused, “We’ve never figured out how G-P can keep its Camas mill going. The paper machine there is so expensive.”

Interestingly, I saw that four years ago IP closed its Courtland, Ala., mill, a much bigger machine than in Camas, putting 1,100 people out of work. While Alabama is much in the news these days, I don’t think it’s for being overly union friendly or for its overbearing environmental regulations. Perhaps it’s because demand for printing paper is down by something like 40 percent since 2000.