do I need to know?
a thousand years old
and with a great future
The word paper (“papyrus” in Latin), comes from the Egyptian plant Cyperus papirus, a plant with leaves that served as a writing support for the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans between 3,000 BC and the 5th century AD.
Parchment, made from tanned animal skins prepared to absorb ink, was used in Europe during the Middle Ages. However, paper was already being made by the Chinese from silk waste, rice straw and hemp, and even cotton. They passed this knowledge on to the Arabs, who in turn took it to what is now Spain and Sicily from the 10th century onwards. Papermaking spread to France, which had been producing paper using flax since the 12th century.
The first paper mill was created in the Basque Country in 1779 and after several initiatives, the first rolling paper mill was created in 1818 in Tolosa. Since then, the paper industry has been gaining in importance right up to the present day. Not only with pulp and paper mills but also with a wide range of companies of all kinds: manufacturers of capital goods, engineering companies, paper and cardboard converters, manufacturers of different equipment and consumables, graphic arts, publishing,… and even a training centre.
An industry with a significant importance in the economy of the Basque Country, that seeks new bases for ongoing improvement as well as the development of its competitiveness through cooperation.
Paper has always served as a foundation for the development of culture, art, science and economics. Despite its apparent fragility, it has served to sustain the foundations of civilisation: laws, rights, duties and historical memory have been written on paper.
The leap from oral to written tradition is one of the fundamental milestones in the history of humanity. Today, however, the uses of paper go far beyond the exclusively graphic. Paper is with us 24 hours a day, making our lives easier. The list of different types of paper is very long and goes beyond what we can imagine, even in times of rapid digitalisation. Unique in countless ways, it is also an environmentally exemplary product and can claim to be one of the few that has a full life cycle with recycling levels very close to the maximum possible technical limits.
History of paper in the Basque Autonomous Community (CAPV for its acronym in Spanish)