Growing demand is breathing new life into the wood-fiber industry and spurring new wood pulp-based consumer products. Domtar is optimistic about the future of the wood pulp market, and we have new products in various stages of research and development.
“We have a renewed focus on deliberately growing the pulp area of our business,” said Lewis Fix, Domtar’s vice president of pulp. “We have identified dozens of potential new products that can be manufactured using pulp and are seeing this segment of our business grow in tremendous ways.”
Domtar produces 2 million tons of market pulp every year. We offer wood pulp in seven varieties, and most of it is sold to some of the world’s largest tissue and towel manufacturers, which have operations in 40 countries. The rest is used to produce items such as melamine dinnerware, cement board for home exteriors, circuit boards, fasteners, light switches and rayon clothing.
Domtar’s wood pulp is also used to make pieces for tile-based games like mahjong and dominoes, which require the company to produce pristine pulp. The pieces are like a deck of cards, Fix said, noting that “if one is bent or has a slightly different color, it’s a tip off to the other players in the game. So we put a lot of effort into making sure our pulp is extremely clean in order to produce the perfect creamy, white tiles.”
The Future of the Wood Pulp Market
Dozens of new products could be released in the future, and Domtar researchers are enthusiastic about testing the use of wood pulp to produce LED screens and even as a replacement for fossil fuels.
Most of the growth in the pulp segment over the past seven years stems from increased interest from Asian countries and developing nations. China consumes 35 percent of the world’s market pulp, Fix said, with a 12 percent growth in consumption last year alone.
To meet the growing demand, Domtar converted its Plymouth Mill in North Carolina and its Ashdown Mill in Arkansas from paper to pulp facilities. Domtar pulp mills are also located in Hawesville, Kentucky; Marlboro, South Carolina; Kamloops, British Columbia; and Dryden and Espanola, Ontario.
“We are optimistic about the growth in the pulp segment and, with innovative thinking, we are becoming one of the most diverse suppliers in the market,” Fix said. “We’re looking forward to the new products in our future.”