Chinese pulp mills are importing record amounts of hardwood chips from Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly, an industry trade journal.
Growing imports are the product of rapid expansion of pulp production and lack of domestic fiber sources in China, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. China’s pulp mills predominantly consume hardwood fiber and therefore rely on imports chips derived from hardwood plantations species, including acacia and eucalyptus. Roughly 88 percent of China’s these imports come from Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
Wood chip imports during the first ten months of 2011 already exceed last year’s total. They are expected to reach seven million metric tons, which would represent a 37 percent increase over last year. The Wood Resource Quarterly says growth in demand is expected to continue through at least 2013. Some of this demand may be met by new suppliers in Malaysia, Cambodia, Chile and Brazil.
Environmentalists have linked growing demand for pulp and paper to conversion of wildlife-rich natural forests for plantations, especially in Indonesia.