The forest products industry survived an initial disruption years ago when online formats overtook paper as the preferred means of communication. Now, disruption is again at the industry’s doorstep, and forest products companies must determine how to successfully turn impending change to their advantage. There are three ways to make this happen.
Dominate the competition through innovation
Although forest-based products are widely seen as more sustainable, other materials producers and new entrants are also looking to leverage circular business models to accelerate production of better, more sustainable, single-use and durable goods. To seize new revenue opportunities, from fiber recovery to nanocellulose production, forest products companies need to embrace new trends fast and support the infrastructure and ecosystem required to manufacture with next-generation products.
Embrace waste and drive it to zero
Forest products companies are keenly aware that waste is a pressing industry issue, with about two billion tons of waste—mostly as wastewater and sludge—generated each year. Both can largely be eliminated by rethinking freshwater use and repurposing waste as an input to generate revenue, say in manufacturing. Companies can also capitalize on their data while using artificial intelligence, remote sensing and other new technologies to improve forest management. As access to data is democratized, it can inform better decisions while driving down waste and maximizing carbon sequestration.
Be generation forward
With rising urbanization and increasingly diverse sources of forest-based materials, companies must embrace changing supply models and changing demographics. Allied to this, they’ll need to rethink employment strategies and improve the employee experience to attract next-generation workers and tap into the best talent. Key to this will be leveraging digital technologies and adopting fresh skills to manage operations smarter, reinvent manufacturing processes and develop more innovative products.