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Regular version of the site

Article

Industry and Forests: alternative raw materials in the Soviet forestry industry from the mid-1950s to the 1960s

Environment and History. 2018. Vol. 24. No. 3. P. 323-347.

The article examines the history of using wood and timber wastes and annual plants as well as in the Soviet Union from the 1950s to the1960s. In the middle of the twentieth century, 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.  Modernization during the same period witnessed a number of initiatives to use different sources for pulp production, ranging from wood and timber wastes 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 organizational 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 organizational obstacles while attempting to introduce alternative resources