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Policy vs. Consumer Pressure: Innovation and Diffusion of Alternative Bleaching Technologies in the Pulp Industry

  • David Popp
  • Tamara Hafner
  • Nick Johnstone

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, concern over dioxin in both paper products and wastewater led to the development of techniques that reduced the use of chlorine in the pulp industry. Both regulatory and consumer pressure motivated this change. We use patent data to examine the evolution of two completing bleaching technologies in five major paper-producing countries, both of which reduce the use of chlorine in the pulping process. By the end of the 1990s, nearly all pulp production in these countries used one of these technologies. Unlike other papers using patents to study environmentally-friendly innovation, we focus on a process innovation, rather than on end-of-the-pipe solutions to pollution. Moreover, while previous studies emphasize the importance of regulation for inducing innovation, here we find substantial innovation occurring before regulations were in place. Instead, pressure from consumers to reduce the chlorine content of paper drives the first round of innovation. However, while some companies choose to adopt these technologies in response to consumer pressure, not all firms will differentiate their product in this way. Thus, governments need to regulate if their goal is broad diffusion of the environmental technology.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13439.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13439.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Research Policy Volume 40, Issue 9, November 2011, Pages 1253–1268
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13439
Note: EEE PR
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Griliches, Zvi, 1990. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
  3. Jean O. Lanjouw & Mark Schankerman, 2004. "Patent Quality and Research Productivity: Measuring Innovation with Multiple Indicators," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 441-465, 04.
  4. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 783-832.
  5. Lanjouw, Jean Olson & Mody, Ashoka, 1996. "Innovation and the international diffusion of environmentally responsive technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 549-571, June.
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