Warnings about the rising cost of paper began more than a year ago, but they haven’t really hit the public consciousness until earlier this year. Stories about supplies of toilet paper running out in Taiwan, caught the attention of newspapers everywhere. The idea of being without a product that we all take for granted, an inconvenience that clearly, we could all relate to.
The reality is that we’re unlikely to experience the same problems here. Indeed, it wasn’t a shortage of toilet paper that caused the problem in Taiwan, rather the fear of a shortage but it does highlight the issue.
Paper is a commodity and one that we’re used to having in generous supply. Its use in business is wider than you might at first think. It’s not just about having paper in washroom cubicles and paper towels for drying hands, there are many businesses for whom additional hygiene is a necessity. It’s also about paper sheets to protect couches in beauty salons, dentists and tattooists, facial tissues, centrefeed for wiping up spills and floor-stand rolls for wiping down machinery.
The are many reasons for the rising cost of paper. Record high prices in both hardwood and softwood pulp, the globally restricted supply of pulp, increased customer spending and the growing demand for paper-based packaging all play a part, compounded by the increasingly weak value of the pound.
Although we’re experiencing an increase in the cost of paper, luckily, it doesn’t mean a lack of availability. But it does mean that suppliers will need to pass on costs to the customer or source and offer alternative products, which will still mean an increase in cost, albeit a lower one.
Naturally, no business welcomes increased costs but maybe it’s time to question our views of perceived ‘basic’ products. Items like paper are about more than just the price and we’re at risk of under appreciating their value as well as what they cost from an environmental perspective as a natural resource.