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Industry and Forests: Alternative Raw Materials in the Soviet Forestry Industry from the mid-1950s to the 1960s

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The article examines the history of using wood and timber waste and annual plants in the Soviet Union from the 1950s to the1960s. In the middle of the twentieth century, Soviet leadership, producers and scientists expressed their anxiety about the lack of forests near pulp and paper plants, and started looking for alternative raw materials. Modernisation during the same period witnessed a number of initiatives to use different sources for pulp production, ranging from wood and timber waste to reed and annual plants. It included attempts to develop low-waste and non-waste industrial technologies. In most cases, however, this search did not transform the supply of raw materials. Instead, most factories continued manufacturing pulp and pulp-based products using wood, and thus kept cutting and exploring undisturbed forests, in particular those in Siberia. In this article, I investigate the attempted use of alternative resources in industrial operations and examine why employing these materials was not successful in the Soviet Union in the 1950s-1960s. I am interested in the organisational and technological aspects of how forestry developed and used resources in the Soviet Union. I illustrate how technologies circulated not only within the country, but also between the USSR and Western countries. The article contends that new practices did not change wasteful wood-use practices, in large part because the industry continued to contend with infrastructural and organisational obstacles while attempting to introduce alternative resources.
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Keywords: Forest; forestry industry; modernisation; technology transfer; the USSR; wood wastes

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2018

This article was made available online on January 4, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Industry and Forests: Alternative Raw Materials in the Soviet Forestry Industry from the mid-1950s to the 1960s".

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
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