By Emma GillinghamThe future of the papermaking industry is at stake.
At a time when papermaking is in the news again, and after a three-year decline, there are a number of reasons to be optimistic about the industry.
First, papermakers have found a niche in a rapidly changing economy.
It has become easier and cheaper to print documents digitally, and papermakers can afford to move out of the traditional manufacturing business.
In turn, they have made more money by using cheaper materials.
Second, the technology is advancing.
The cost of the machines and the paper is falling fast, and there is a big appetite for new machines to manufacture documents.
Third, the world has moved away from paper and onto paper-based products.
In the digital era, papermaking has been replaced by software.
This is a process where data is stored on the computer and then it can be accessed in a digital format, which is then shared and used.
The resulting documents are stored on servers.
The papermaking business is booming.
The number of papermakers has increased from 20,000 in 2015 to over 200,000 today.
That is the largest papermaking sector in the world.
Papermakers are the fastest-growing sector of the Australian economy, with a recent report predicting that by 2021 the paper industry will generate $2.2 billion in annual revenue, representing $1.2 trillion of economic activity.
While papermaking and its jobs have been around for decades, it has been slow to catch up.
In 2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched a survey to explore what impact the industry was having on the economy.
The results of that survey showed that while the paper business is now worth $1 billion a year, it was worth $300 million less than it was in 2000.
The report also noted that paper was one of the biggest losers in the manufacturing sector, with losses of over $50 million in the first five years of the decade.
The latest figures from the Australian Paper Industry Association show that papermaking in Australia is forecast to contract by $3.8 billion between 2020 and 2025.
That means that by the time the next generation of papermaking machines comes online, it will be worth $150 million less.
And there is little doubt that the future of paper is looking bleak.
There are signs that paper manufacturing will become increasingly automated, as is the case in the United States.
And the introduction of new technology is expected to cause an explosion in the cost of paper.
In 2017, the ABC reported that the number of people who are employed in the paper mill industry is expected decline by 40 per cent in just two years, and that in 2025, there will be just 10 per cent more jobs available for Australians than there are now.
There are many reasons to think that the paper manufacturing industry will struggle in the future.
However, there is one thing that seems certain: the industry is not dead yet.
The world is moving away from the paper and into digital, and the digital world is changing papermaking very rapidly.
The future is brighter, and so are the papermakers.