The Paper industry is changing

October 3rd, 2018

Written by Katy Winship

You might have noticed that your paper bill has increased. No, we’re not fobbing you off- there’s a reason for this and it’s quite interesting!

The future of the UK paper market currently looks relatively bleak with more increases expected in both October and January 2019. Unfortunately, these increases are currently unavoidable and here’s why:

Backlash against plastic

In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t watch the news here’s a quick catch-up for you: The headlines have been full of shocking statistics about the impact of plastic on marine life. Scenes like the below with reports of wildlife such as birds not being able to take off because they’re so full of plastic have been rife. These shocking headlines have become a wake-up call for many of us and we are now seeing a backlash against plastic happening throughout the country.

Businesses and households are thinking about switching to environmentally friendly alternatives. For example; you might have noticed your local pub has stopped providing plastic straws and have switched to paper or just don’t provide them at all.

The price of everything

Continued pressure is on the paper industry’s cost structure due to higher costs of just about everything. From chemicals, distribution and even water, these increases have led to mills having to increase prices in order to remain sustainable.

But the main issue is the rising cost of pulp, so it’s not just paper we print and write on that we’re talking about, other paper-based products such as incontinence products (nappies for example) and packaging will be affected, so expect rises there too. A couple of months back Proctor and Gamble announced a price increase on Bounty towels, Puffs tissues and Charmin loo roll.

The paper industry in the UK

The UK no longer operates any active paper mills which means that all paper is imported. Most of our paper is from the US, Scandinavia and more recently the Far East, three parts of the world where the economy is improving- which means we are subject to their terms.

The demand for paper is growing and changes in the industry are driving up prices. In fact, Domtar, a paper mill working within the US and Canada, have recently decided that due to the weakness of the pound and the insecurity of the Brexit deal that the UK - and in fact Europe as a whole - is no longer a viable market for them to operate in.

Ethical paper

You might find that some suppliers are offering cheaper paper because they are sourcing it from the Far East- mostly from Indonesia. Unlike Scandinavia, where trees are cut down but then replanted to ensure re-growth, little re-plantation happens here. Simon from our purchasing team explains why we don’t explore these avenues of Far Eastern import “The CSR impact that purchasing this stock has leaves it an option that we are not morally willing to pursue. The working standards are greatly inferior to ours with children and adults working up to 18-hour days in poor conditions and for little pay.”

Reducing Paper consumption- suggestions

• Slim down your paper consumption by only printing what is necessary and, if you can, print on both sides of the paper.

• Try a lower stock of paper. ACS have recently switched from a thicker stock of paper to a recycled stock which is a lower grammage of paper. This means that not only are our paper purchases are cost effective but we’re also helping save the planet.

• Or how about going paperless altogether? We have a range of IT products that could make your printing for filing and administrative tasks a thing of the past. You could use tablets and iPads instead of documentation and take your devices to meetings. You could also work collaboratively by making the jump to the cloud and sharing documents with your team with Office 365 and Skype for Business. Speak to your Account Manager today about how our dedicated Technology team can help your office become more productive with cloud services.

We are continually looking at sources to achieve a more consistent and competitive pricing structure. Speak to your Account Manager on ways we can help you cut your office supplies bill today.