It appears that the Pulp & Paper industry in Eastern Europe is continuing to thrive, maintaining the growth it has shown in recent years as industrial development in the region persists.

At least that’s the case in Estonia, where the country’s only packaging paper producer, Horizon Pulp and Paper (Horizon), has been able to increase its work load and confirm orders until the end of June.

The company's operation is ‘smooth’ and has been ‘without interruptions’ since the beginning of February, while a member of the Horizon Management board is believed to have said that the markets outside of Europe are getting more important to the company.

Exporting up to 100% of its production, the company suggests it is witnessing increasing demand in Asia, Africa and America. Meanwhile, increased production efficiency, and lessened usage of energy and wood fibres has improved the company's competitiveness.

Per capita consumption of paper is thought to be a widely used barometer of economic advancement. As a country’s gross domestic product grows, so does its demand for paper.

Market demand patterns for paper products such as newsprint and office and computer papers are closely related to industrial activity, while other products are indicators of changes in real personal income or demographic factors.

Eastern European countries currently enjoy cost advantages for energy, fibre and labour and their local markets are growing, with Russia and the Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) seeing continued, but slower, growth in 2008.

Industrial development in the region is driving demand for high value products like linerboard, coated paper and tissue – and the dramatic growth in printing seen in Eastern Europe during the past five years is expected to continue.

Gases demand
The basic building block of all pulp and paper products is a complex organic molecule named cellulose that forms chain-like structures or fibres. The original source of most cellulose fibre used by the pulp and paper industry is wood of several varieties; including both hard and soft woods.

The cellulose fibres in wood are bound together by an organic substance named lignin.

Before cellulose can be re-structured into paper and the extensive range of related products, it is necessary to extract the lignin from the fibres, leaving a wet, fibre rich ‘soup’ known as woodpulp.

There are two common process for this extraction, notably mechanical pulp production or chemical pulp production, both of which have their own operating inefficiencies.

A suite of industrial gas applications have been developed and refined over many years to compensate for these operating inefficiencies.

As a result, the Pulp & Paper industry contributes significantly to the industrial demand for oxygen in particular, though carbon dioxide is also in demand as it performs as a very effective ph neutraliser.

Horizon Pulp & Paper itself produces a wide range of good quality paper products for the packaging industry, all based on 100% virgin long fibre softwood pulp.