What should Finland do with its timber?
The Stora Enso group has announced that it is closing its pulp and paper production at its mill in Kemi, northern Finland and another mill in central Sweden. Around 670 employees will lose their jobs in Kemi, making this the largest plant closure in the history of the Finnish forest industry. There's no point in moping, say Finnish commentators, and pin their hopes on innovation in the timber industry.
Time to stop clinging to the past
The changes in the forest industry are unstoppable, Helsingin Sanomat points out:
“In February, Metsä Group confirmed it was going ahead with the construction of a large factory for bioproducts [innovative wood pulp products] in Kemi. And on Tuesday, Stora Enso announced the closure of the Veitsiluoto pulp and paper mill. ... The closure of one plant and the opening of the other exemplifies the structural changes in the industry. Paper production is declining, while the production of packaging materials, among other things, is increasing. ... It's politically tempting to support old industries and speak out against factory closures. But the economic trends are so unstoppable that the best labour market policy is to support change.”
Producing A4 paper not exactly rocket science
With innovative products, the Finnish forest industry can continue to be competitive in the future, believes Savon Sanomat:
“Hardly anyone will dispute that the production of A4 copy paper is only modest proof of Finnish know-how. Moreover, printing and writing paper technology can hardly be further refined. ... Packaging materials are also unlikely to become high-tech cutting-edge products. But products made of wood, and especially various biomaterials, have enormous potential for versatile applications. ... Right now, Kemi and the whole of Finland are struggling with the upheavals on the markets - but it's not the end of the world.”