The problems recyclers face with wastepaper are connected to the issues addressed by forest advocates, as well as to the difficulties confronted by those involved with industrial pollution from the paper industry. In this richly detailed study, Maureen Smith shows how industrial and environmental analysis can be synthesized to clarify these complex problems and produce solutions.
Smith outlines the basic structural characteristics of the U.S. pulp and paper industry and its relationship to the larger forest products sector, as well as its patterns of domestic and global fiber resource use. She then reviews the core technologies employed in virgin pulp production, with an emphasis on their environmental impacts, the role of technological innovation, and the relationships between fiber choices and pollution prevention. Building on this base she reveals structural barriers within the industry that have impeded positive change and shows how these barriers are reinforced by the traditional isolation of environmental policy domains.
The study includes a comparative analysis of how organochlorine pollution from pulp mills has been addressed in the United States, Europe, and Canada (and why the United States has seen the slowest rate of progress); an assessment of commodity trade patterns in the industry and how they are linked to resource demand; an examination of the momentum building around annual plant fiber use and the diverse interests it reflects; and a review of recent developments in paper recycling within the context of historical trends in fiber utilization.
A case study of the controversial environmental review process of the largest recycled pulp and paper mill ever proposed ties together earlier elements of the book and forms the basis for the conclusions. In closing, Smith argues convincingly against narrowly focused attempts to "fix" the problems associated with the industry, and offers practical guidance on new frameworks and approaches for industrial restructuring. She highlights the need for regional perspectives that integrate environmental, social, and economic objectives.