Substituting pulp for filler is increasingly attractive for papermakers, 19PaperCon
Market pulp is traded globally and has the kind of price volatility often found among true commodities. In recent years the price has been moving upwards, much to the agony of papermakers who face price pressure in the wake of declining paper demand. Mineral fillers commonly used in papermaking are exhibiting a higher degree of price stability, meaning that the already large price gap between pulp and filler has been tending to increase. This increased gap is reinforcing the interest for higher filler loading in papers. Balancing the strong cost incentive to increase filler loading is an expectation of negative impact on papermachine operational efficiency and paper quality. Pushing filler up means that the operation of paper machines would tend to be more challenging in terms of having more fine material to retain and in maintaining overall runnability despite having an inherently weaker paper web. Managing this balance is a value creation opportunity for papermakers as well as for their suppliers.
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