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A Day in the Life

The trip from my home to the office is quite successful in setting the mood for the work that I do. Since the road runs parallel to the train tracks along Montreal's Autoroute 20, many of the trains r...


June 1, 2007
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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anyao@pulpandpapercanada.com

The trip from my home to the office is quite successful in setting the mood for the work that I do. Since the road runs parallel to the train tracks along Montreal’s Autoroute 20, many of the trains running alongside are cargo trains, often bearing large pallets of lumber on their flatbeds. With the names of the companies now familiar to me, I still get a glow of pride from the association with Abitibi-Consolidated, Cascades, Domtar, Weyerhaeuser, Kruger, Canfor, Bowater, Tembec and others that I see emblazoned on the wrapping.

Not only does that tie in with the forestry side of the industry, but it also makes me proud that Canada is still at the top in the pulp and paper field due to many of these companies.

As one of Canada’s largest industrial employers, the forest products industry has an enormous impact on Canada’s economy. According to statistics that FPAC (Forest Products Association of Canada) has gathered, strong volume still provides direct jobs to 340,000 Canadians, contributing nearly 3% of Canada’s GDP, and exporting almost $40 billion of products to markets around the world. Given the downturn in Canada’s pulp and paper markets, and the hundreds of mill communities suffering unemployment and an uncertain future as a result, bioenergy could provide a real opportunity for turnaround.

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Couple this with the current concern about global warming and Canada’s commitment to tackle climate change, you have a situation that needs to be addressed by everyone, from the average citizen to the large industries. This makes the prospects ideal for those companies willing to look beyond their usual scope with the resources they have at hand. Yet despite having one of the world’s largest supplies of biomass and leading in innovative technology, the drive to biorefining is still unsteady and needs more focus.

To help in the initiative, this issue of Pulp & Paper Canada has focussed on this topic with articles about the prevalent state of the technology today, as presented by scientists and researchers at the Biorefining Symposium during PaperWeek in Montreal. These sessions were organized by the Canadian forest Biorefinery Network (CFBR) and the report presented by Andy Garner (of Andy Garner & Associates) gives a brief but comprehensive description of the proceedings (Biorefinery Symposium maps out a green future).

Further rounding out the information, is Cellulosic Biorefineries — Charting a New Course for Wood Use an article by Alex Koukoulas (consultant for the pulp and paper and bioenergy industries and the principal of ANL Consultants, LLC). He expects the development of cellulosic ethanol and bioenergy to be complementary to the asset base of the industry and gives existing examples of business models that have proposed various approaches to the production of these products.

On a further note, CANBIO and the International Energy Agency are hosting a conference in Toronto (September 12-13) called Realizing the Bioenergy Opportunity, to promote the growth of the bioenergy market in Canada. The Conference announcement and program information can be found on www.canbio.ca.

Another notable story is the article on education from the perspective of international students studying here in Canada (Oh International Canada). Heather Lynch gathered insights from these young people who indicate the importance of their experiences here to their future careers. As an example, Hanna Wiklund, second year PhD-student studying at Mid Sweden University, described her opportunity to work closely with people who have a lot of experience, both in numerical modelling and paper science, as training that will benefit her in future work. Specifically, she said, it gave her a better understanding of some of the current issues in papermaking. “I would definitely recommend anyone who has the opportunity to study or work abroad to do that both for professional and personal reasons,” Hanna said. “My experiences with Paprican have been very good; everyone has been very kind and helpful, people here have a lot of knowledge and experience and they have been more than happy to share it with someone relatively new to the field.”

Both the bioenergy being developed and the training of international students bodes well for the future of the industry, both in Canada and abroad. It’s a future that we will all be watching very carefully.