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Major Constraints of Pulp and Paper in Pakistan

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According to tradition, the paper was first made in ad 105 by Ts’ai Lun, a eunuch attached to the Eastern Han court of the Chinese emperor Ho Ti. The material used was probably the bark of the mulberry tree, and the paper was made on a mold of bamboo strips. The earliest known paper still in existence was made from rags about ad 150. For approximately 500 years the art of papermaking was confined to China, but in 610 it was introduced into Japan and into Central Asia about 750 as a result of the attack of the Arabs to China. Paper made its appearance in Egypt about 800 but was not manufactured there until 900.
The use of paper was introduced into Europe by the Moors, and the first papermaking mill was established in Spain about 1150 and the man behind was Tariq Bin Zeyyad. In succeeding centuries, the craft spread to most of the European countries. The introduction of movable type about the middle of the 15th century made book printing practical and greatly stimulated papermaking. The first paper mill in England was established in 1495, and the first such mill in America in 1690.
The increasing use of paper in the 17th and 18th centuries created shortages of rags, which were the only satisfactory raw material known to European papermakers. As a result, many attempts were made to devise substitutes, but none was commercially satisfactory. At the same time, attempts were made to reduce the cost of paper by developing a machine to supplant the hand-molding process in paper manufacture. The first practical machine was made in 1798 by the French inventor Nicholas Louis Robert. Robert’s machine was improved by the British stationers and Brothers Henry Fourdrinier and Sealy Fourdrinier, who in 1803 produced the first of the machines that bear their name. The solution of the problem of making paper from cheap raw material was achieved by the introduction of the groundwood process of pulp making about 1840 and the first of the chemical pulp processes approximately ten years later.
With the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), the technology then moved to the US where it flourished to its peak and it became the leading country in Paper industry not only it’s manufacturing but also in its consumption (350 kg paper per capita consumption) presently, whereas for the case of Pakistan the rate of consumption is about 4 kg paper per capita consumption.


A number of factors are responsible for the tribulations of Pulp and Paper and its thriving in Pakistan. These are discussed as under:

Low Forest Cover:

The condition of forest cover in Pakistan is derisory which is about 5.2% and the canopy cover counseled for any country supposed to be greater than 20%. Majority of these forests lie in our important catchment areas which, in any circumstance, cannot be felled. The only trees available for paper production are from agroforestry.
Of all the factors responsible for the depletion of forest cover; deforestation is the major one and that is 1.5%. According to a report of IUCN if this rate of deforestation persisted we will be having no forest cover after 16 years.
Population, as it is said, is one of the main rationales behind the depletion of forest covers. If it is so then why forest cover in China and India is not dwindling instead of escalating.
Afforestation can be helpful in upsurge the forest cover in the country. Yet again we are lacking two important resources, explicitly water and land, which are essential in this regard. Majority of the country is in Sub-Tropical Ecoregion where land is of Xerosere nature and drought prevails for most of the year. And rest of the major part (6.2 million hectare which is about one-third area of the country) is facing the problem of salinity and waterlogging.
The planting of salt tolerant trees like Eucalyptus spp is the best step in this direction. Since it is a salt tolerant species even it can tolerate a pH of 10 so it will not only help in solving the problem but also it is one of the best species used in the production of paper.

Old Machinery:

Presently 50 mills of pulp and paper are working in Pakistan which cannot go through with the demands of the country. Besides the machines are small and old having very low efficiency. The operating efficiency is 60 %. For the case of America, if the operating efficiency of any machine comes below than 80% it is closed down. The reason behind is the proportionality between the cost and efficiency of the machine. Greater the efficiency of the machine, lower will be the costs and vice versa.
On account of above reasons, Pakistan is importing about 50% of its paper requirements which costs about Rs. 13 billion annually which are the 7th biggest import, so it is a substantial pressure on our foreign exchange.

Shortage of Raw Materials:

Paper can be produced by non-woody products and wood products. As mentioned earlier Pakistan has a very low forest cover which either lies on imperative catchment areas or of protected or reserved legal status. The only predilection is the use of non-woody products. This by no means cannot substitute the wood products.

 Use of Non-Woody Products as Raw Materials:

In Pakistan non-woody products ie wheat straws, grasses, etc are used for papermaking as raw materials. These products cannot be the substitute to the woody raw materials owing to the following reasons.

  • If we check out the word paper industries, 90% of the market is based on woody products while only 10% rely on non-woody products, which is reversed for the case of Pakistan.
  • The collection of non-woody products is intricate and overpriced while the collection of woody products is simple.
  • The storage of wood products is best and long termed while non-woody products cannot be stored for longer time having poor storage.

Pakistan is expending a large amount of money on foreign exchange if this amount is utilized in Afforestation on saline and waterlogged areas it will not only full fill our paper demands but also play an imperative role in improving the livelihood of people by creating job opportunities for instance.

For correction and improvements please use the comments section below.

Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani is working as Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu ( Forestrypedia (, All Pak Notifications (, Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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