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Production volume of paper by type 2008-2018

In 2018, some 115.6 million metric tons of graphic paper was produced around the globe. This was a notable decrease from 2008, when the graphic paper production amounted to 151.5 million metric tons worldwide.

Origins of paper

Paper is an essential material that plays an important part in the daily lives of many people around the world. Since the eighth century before common era, paper was used for wrapping and padding in China. Only since the third-century China has paper been used for its most famous medium: for writing. Three centuries after that, toilet paper came also into use there. By the eighth century, Muslim countries had also adopted paper and developed new production technology as well. The world's production of modern paper as we know it, however, only began in early 19th century Europe, with the invention of the Fourdrinier machine.

Changes in production and consumption volumes

In today’s globalized and digitalized world, the production of graphic paper used for printing and writing is decreasing as many formats are switching (at least in part) to paperless options and digital formats. The production of packaging paper and board has been steadily growing, however. As of 2018, the worldwide demand volume for containerboard was the highest of any type of paper product, while tissue and fluff demand was lowest based on volume.

Environmental concerns

Most paper is produced from forestry products, usually trees. Some paper products also include other natural fibers or recycled content. Paper production is one of the largest polluters to air, water, and land of any industry in Canada and the United States. Every year, the paper industry emits large amounts of pollution. These concerns, along with cost savings, are among the reasons for the shift towards going paperless. On the other hand, cardboard is considered by many to be a comparatively renewable and sustainable option compared to plastic packaging.

Global paper production volume from 2008 to 2018 by type

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Release date

August 2020



Survey time period

2008 to 2018

Supplementary notes

This statistic was assembled from several editions of this report.
VDP stands for "Verband Deutscher Papierfabriken" (Association of German Paper Factories).

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