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Top 10 Pulp & Paper Manufacturers in 2020


The pulp and paper industry is one of the oldest sectors globally, and it continues to play a vital role in our lives today. Despite the growing push to go paperless in several areas of our lives, the pulp and paper industry is still thriving worldwide. This is primarily due to shifting consumer expectations. For example, consumers are increasingly interested in moving away from plastic and towards more sustainable options. At the same time, there has been an explosion in online shopping and home delivery. As a result, between 2014 and 2019, the volume of paper and card packaging placed on the UK market rose from 329 million metric tons to an eye-watering 627 million metric tons. With this in mind, let’s look at the top ten pulp and paper manufacturers in 2020.

1. International Paper

Based out of Memphis, Tennessee, in the US, International Paper is one of the world’s leading producers of fibre-based packaging and pulp and paper. The company is in the number one spot in the world for both production of paper (21.33 million tonnes in 2020), and sales.

International Paper describes its mission as transforming renewable resources into recyclable products that people depend on every day. It has approximately 48,000 employees and more than 25,000 customers across 150 countries.

Despite disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic, the company still generated around 20.6 billion US dollars in 2020. International Paper creates a range of paper and pulp-based products, including pulp for nappies, papers for education and communication, packaging products, paper bags, and food containers. 

2. Oji Paper

Oji Holdings is a Japanese company that specialises in the production of writing and printing paper, thermal papers, corrugated cardboard, wrapping papers and packaging, and disposable nappies. Oji was ranked the world’s second-biggest paper company in 2020 based on revenue, generating 13 billion US dollars.

3. UPM

Headquartered in Finland, UPM has operations in France, China, Uruguay, Indonesia, and the UK. The company prides itself on being an innovator in the eco-friendly and sustainable pulp and paper space, investing considerable money and energy into this goal. Despite the modern iteration of the company being founded in 1996, the company’s oldest paper mill dates back to 15th century France. In 2020, UPM generated 10.44 billion US dollars in revenue, and the pulp mills produce 3.7 million tons of pulp annually.

4. Stora Enso

Also based out of Finland, Stora Enso is one of the world’s biggest paper products by capacity. The company primarily serves the European market but also has operations in Latin America, North America, and Asia. Like UPM, it has a strong focus on sustainability, providing low-carbon alternatives to fossil-based materials. Stora Enso has 23,000 employees and generated 10.4 billion US dollars in revenue in 2020.

5. Nine Dragons Paper Holdings

Headquartered in Hong Kong, China, Nine Dragons has earned its place as one of the world’s leading pulp and paper manufacturers. While the company ranked 7th for revenue in 2020, generating 8.26 billion US dollars, it came in second for tonnes of paper produced, at 15 million tonnes. Nine Dragons are the largest paperboard producer in Asia and employ over 15,000 people globally. The company also has a strong focus on intelligent manufacturing, favouring modern equipment and robust data management. And despite using forest products for paper production, Nine Dragons primarily uses recycled paper as its raw material.

6. Nippon Paper Group

Nippon Unipac Holding is a Japanese company that produces a vast range of pulp and paper-based products, including containerboard, liquid packaging, and tissue. In terms of revenue, Nippon ranked number 5 globally in 2020, with 9.43 billion US dollars. The company also ranked ninth for capacity, producing 6.03 million tonnes of paper last year. Nippon is also committed to sustainability, obtaining biomass fuel from trees and using them as a raw material in pulp and paper production.

7. Mondi

Mondi is a UK based pulp and paper company that employs around 26,000 people and has approximately 100 production sites in more than 30 countries worldwide. The company names a range of paper-based products, including packaging, personal hygiene components, release liners, corrugated board, industrial bags, and technical film. In 2020, Mondi ranked 6th for revenue, coming in at 8.45 billion US dollars.

8. Smurfit Kappa Group

Headquartered in Ireland, Smurfit Kappa is Europe’s leading corrugated packaging companies and a major player worldwide. The company employs 46,000 people globally, has 350 locations across the world, and operates in 36 countries. Smurfit Kappa creates packaging for the industrial, retail, and consumer sectors. In 2020, they ranked 8th in the world for production, producing a massive 7.50 million tonnes of paper.

9. DS Smith

British multinational company DS Smith is a leading provider of corrugated packaging solutions globally. The company employs over 30,000 people across 34 different countries. In a story that will feel all too familiar, DS Smith suffered during the coronavirus pandemic, with pre-tax sales for 2020 plummeting by 38%. However, despite the dip in sales, the turn of the decade was still a bust time for the company. It ranked number 5 for paper and pulp production globally, producing 9.73 million tonnes of paper and paperboard.

10. Kimberly Clark Corp

Based in the USA, Kimberly Clark Corp is the world’s biggest hygiene products group. The company produces several household-name products like Kleenex tissue, Huggies nappies and baby wipes, and Andrex toilet paper. It has around 40,000 employees and generates around $18 billion a year in revenue. Despite being one of the highest earners on the list, Kimberly Clark produces far less pulp than the others on this list, which is why it’s coming in at number 10. While it’s hard to find up-to-date statistics on the amount of pulp Kimberley Clark produces itself, in 2011, it was reported that it only made 8% of the pulp used in its products.

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