Mr. Abolfazl Roghani Golpaigani, in an exclusive interview with the reporter of the Industry and Mine and Trade Department of the IRIB News Agency, pointed out the importance of newsprint for the media and added, "About 6 years ago, 130,000 tons of newsprint were consumed in the country, but today this figure has decreased to 10,000 or 15,000 tons, which sometimes is not even used for newspapers and is allocated to cheap packaging.
He said, "The first reason for the decrease in newspaper consumption is related to the expansion and development of social networks, and in the next step, the increase in the exchange rate."
Supporting the import of writing paper rather than its domestic production
Roghani Golpayegani continued, "What is important in the country today is writing paper, and it has been raised many times in the advertising campaigns of the 13th government to solve its problem because we need about 42 thousand tons of writing paper to print textbooks and to use parts of it in the field of printing and publishing and paper magazines. However, most of it is imported and there is a shortage of writing paper in the country."
Regarding the cause of this shortage, he said, "We have a planned capacity of 130,000 to 140,000 tons in the country, which means there are companies that are designed for this product, but due to the lack of support from the government and even the private sector for this type of paper, almost most of the companies does not work in the field of writing paper."
Regarding the lack of willingness to produce writing paper, he said, "All current laws of the country are in favor of imports, for example, according to the law of the parliament, we should not charge 9% added value for textbooks, so the import of writing paper is completely exempt from taxes. However, this 9% added value is given to all the units of the cost price inside the country. Also, the infrastructure laws that have been created in the country have mostly been aimed at supporting the import of paper."
Roghani added, "For example, until last year, the 4,200 exchange rate of USD in Toman was allocated for the import of both newsprint and writing paper, and this was the main reason for the reluctance to produce writing paper in the country, whereas added value is not collected from imports."
Iran's self-reliance in packaging paper production
Referring to the country's need for packaging paper of about 900 thousand tons, the head of the Syndicate of Paper and Cardboard Producers said, "About 9 years ago, we were one of the importers of cardboard paper, but with the cooperation of the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, the Syndicate and private sector investors, today we not only have the ability to supply all domestic needs but also need to export extensively."
Roghani continued, "For example, the production license of 2,800,000 tons of packaging paper has been issued, which has created a production capacity of about 1,600,000 tons, but what is completely available to us is 1,200,000 tons which is more than the country's need, and we export a part of this production."
Pointing to the importance of the export target market, he said, "The largest volume of our paper exports is to Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan, which fortunately with the increase in production quality, some European countries, China and Korea have also been added to our export markets."
Referring to the government's decision to form a paper committee chaired by the first vice president, Roghani said, "In this committee, the decision is being made to solve the paper problem, now Khuzestan's green paper plant has been designed with a capacity of 220,000 tons of paper, which is facing the problems of buying machines, installing them and using foreign experts in the conditions of sanctions."
From the plan of pausing and stopping wood exploitation from the forest to the obstacles in the supply of raw materials for the wood industry
Referring to the forest wood exploitation law, he said, "Currently, there are 1,900,000 hectares of forests in the north of the country, according to the country's law, companies that use forest wood to produce paper in exchange for harvesting each tree that is over 70 years old, they should plant between 9 and 11 saplings, which not only will not reduce the area of the forest but also will cause the expansion of the forest. As an example, Mazandaran Wood and Paper Industries planted 16 million trees about 8 years ago, and with the management of the forest by the operating companies, about one million kilometers of road were created in the forests of the north, and for whatever reason, the previous governments and the parliament offered a plan for the forest to breathe and stopped harvesting, and this decision created a big problem for the industries that used wood."
The country needs to import 2 million cubic meters of wood
He further added, "Currently, we need to import 2 million cubic meters of wood, which is due to the blocking of space and lack of import license, or if it is supposed to import, the conditions are so strict that its economic benefit is lost. Mazandaran Wood and Paper is still active by importing pulp, sometimes wood and wood starch."
Roghani said, "The next problem in this industry is the use of bagasse (residue obtained after the extraction of sugar from sugarcane and sorghum), for which there is a major concern due to the lack of water and the decrease in sugarcane production. The harvest is reduced, which is one of the challenges of supplying raw materials in the wood industry."
Internal sanction is a problem in the paper industry
The head of the Syndicate of Paper and Cardboard Producers said, "Most papermaking industries in Iran and the world need paper pulp, and due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, most of the countries in the world have faced a fundamental challenge in supplying pulp, and this problem is also a fundamental challenge in the supply of raw materials. In addition, the issue of internal sanction also causes problems, for example, it takes 2-3 months to register an order, and we have to pay 9% value-added tax for the import of paper machines which takes 2 years to be delivered."
Roghani added, "We have problems with importing chemicals and coating materials. For companies that are considered large-scale or medium-sized and upward in papermaking, we do not have a serious supplier of spare parts inside the country, and most of their machines are sent abroad for repair."
The activity of 105 paper production units in the country
He added, "105 paper production units operate and produce in the country, about 25 percent of these units are among medium and large paper making, and the rest are active as small companies, also 3 to 4 companies produce writing paper, but more than 95 percent of the companies produce packaging paper."
The substitution of cellulose industries instead of petrochemicals in packaging industries
He added, "We proposed a plan to the government with the theme "Why should we lag behind the world in terms of packaging?". The world has distanced itself from plastic and replaced it with cellulose industries. We should also start it in the country. Our packaging industries should use packaging materials from the cellulose industries, which is at least in the direction of people's health and helps the environment."