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Mar 26, 201912:02 PMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

Paper or plastic? Question tied to future of legacy Wisconsin industry

(page 2 of 2)

Paper’s long-term future in Wisconsin may rest on more research into new and better ways to use paper, especially versus other products that are less recyclable and out of sync with consumer trends.

In some ways, Wisconsin’s paper industry has never fully recovered from the loss of the Institute of Paper Chemistry, which was founded in Appleton in 1929 and moved to Georgia Tech University in 1989. The institute has since created a direct link between Georgia Tech and the worldwide paper industry by exploring products and processes.

Leaders of the Wisconsin Paper Council have urged more state funding for paper research in Wisconsin, which is centered at UW–Stevens Point. A proposal in Gov. Tony Evers budget calls for about $300,000 to add two faculty positions at Stevens Point, doubling the number of students who can be trained from about 50 per year to 100 per year.

“There are exciting opportunities in the industry today and we’re responding to need,” said Scott Suder, president of the Paper Council.

Suder said Wisconsin’s paper industry is “absolutely tracking” consumer and government actions involving use of plastics. He added that fiber research will yield more innovations in coming years — especially if the talent pipeline is strong and more young people are drawn into the industry.

Consumer demand is helping to shape how Wisconsin’s paper industry will look in coming years, even if the angry plastic straw guy in Milwaukee doesn’t agree.

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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