When one looks about the modern pulp and paper company (or, really any industrial entity) the non-productive burdens are astounding. Of course, our principles dictate that the most important machine you have is the invoice printer (with having noted the office supply chain, “Staples” has picked up on this in the advertising recently—watch it Staples, we’ll claim prior use). Everything else follows from this—your actual manufacturing processes and then all the regulatory and other processes you see as necessary just to stay in business.
The regulatory burdens, from environmental to health and safety to, if you are public, mandated financial disclosures, continue to grow unabated. Add to these public relations demands such as chain of custody fiber source verifications and other public relations, and the burden can easily approach thirty to forty percent of total costs. It is not long until actually manufacturing and shipping your product is the trivial part of the enterprise. In some parts of the world, these burdens are greater than others, but in general, one can say they are growing for everyone.
What to do? It seems those most successful are outsourcing and automating these activities to the highest extent possible. Smaller companies, in particular, just cannot afford to employ those with the level of expertise needed in these areas to stay in compliance. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs. We have had engineering consultants and maintenance contractors for decades. Perhaps it is time for the industry to support the formation of an independent company or two to take on these burdens. We have to find a better way.