Book chapter

White paper in a greening world. A journey through struggles over substitutes for chlorine bleaching

Published inNew Horizons for Innovation Studies, Editors Edward Elgar Publishing, p. 182-199
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
  • Sociology, Social Policy and Education
Publication date2023-12-12
First online date2023-12-12

The end of the twentieth century marked significant shifts in production conditions for the pulp and paper industry, primarily driven by emerging health and environmental concerns. The withdrawal of chlorine from bleaching processes, initiated in the 1980s, led to the search for substitutes while maintaining product quality standards. Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) bleaching emerged as the preferred alternative, dominating the market, although Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF) bleaching also gained attention, particularly from environmental groups like Greenpeace. However, TCF pulp remained a niche product, mainly in Europe, while ECF techniques became widely adopted. This chapter revisits the trajectory of this innovation withdrawal at the production process level in major pulp-producing countries between 1980 and 2000. Drawing on extensive primary and secondary sources, it examines the conflict between ECF and TCF techniques and their role in reshaping the global market dynamics. The analysis highlights the interplay of various factors such as regulatory frameworks, market configurations, and socio-political pressures. The chapter unfolds as a journey, beginning with Sweden's pioneering adoption of ECF and TCF techniques in response to environmental concerns. It then explores Finland's reaction and Greenpeace's advocacy efforts in sensitizing consumers. Crossing the Atlantic, the focus shifts to North America, where the US Environmental Protection Agency's findings on dioxin pollution and Canada's response to challenges against Swedish research are examined in the light of US pulp and chemical industries resistance against radical chlorine withdrawal and the establishment of TCF as a new standard. Despite some stabilization in market regulations and practices, conflicts persist in the evolving global market landscape. The chapter concludes by emphasizing the ongoing tensions surrounding environmental protection and technological choices in the pulp and paper industry.

  • Pulp and paper industry
  • Bleaching processes
  • Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF) bleaching
  • Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) bleaching
  • Technological pluralism
  • Innovation through withdrawal
  • Resistance to withdrawal
  • Pollution control
  • Environmental conflict
Citation (ISO format)
BAYA LAFFITE, Nicolas. White paper in a greening world. A journey through struggles over substitutes for chlorine bleaching. In: New Horizons for Innovation Studies. [s.l.] : Edward Elgar Publishing, 2023. p. 182–199. (Sociology, Social Policy and Education) doi: 10.4337/9781803925554.00021
Main files (2)
Book chapter (Submitted version)
Book chapter (Published version)

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