Using paper is not as bad as some would have you believe. In Europe alone between 2005 and 2015 forests grown to supply the paper / print industry grew by an area the size of Switzerland!
Planted forests in Europe are not replacing Natural Forests. They are being planted at a rate of 1500 Football Pitches every single day. These forests reduce the pressure on natural forests and are faster growing and more productive.
In northern Europe, where almost all ancient forests are protected, paper comes from managed semi-natural forests where the cycle of planting, growing and logging is carefully controlled. Historical concerns in northern Europe and Canada have now been largely resolved through co-operation between legislators, campaigners and forest industries to protect ancient forests.
Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products in the world today. Paper is recyclable and it is made from a natural resource that is renewable.
The global paper industry’s advocacy of responsible forestry practices and certification, the use of renewable, carbon-neutral bio-fuels and advances in efficient paper making technology, make paper one of the most sustainable products on earth.
Printed paper is made from a renewable resource. Trees can be replanted in places where they were harvested and also in places where they don’t currently grow. As much as we love our electronic devices, they don’t grow on trees or anywhere else!
The paper industry has a number of respected certification schemes ensuring the paper you use has come from a sustainable forest source. The two most recognisable certifications are the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC™).
2.1 billion ha or 52% of the world’s forests are under the above management plans.
In 2013, 74.7% of pulp delivered to paper and board mills in Europe was forest management certified by independent forest certification schemes - up from 71.1% in 2010.
Paper and print is one of the lowest industrial emitters of greenhouse gasses, accounting for 1% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions.
Paper’s carbon footprint is smaller than might be expected: it’s made from a renewable resource that stores carbon, it’s manufactured using mostly renewable energy and it’s recyclable.
Printed paper can be recycled, recovered and reused. The systems that are in place for these processes are widely available and have become more efficient and sophisticated over the many years they have existed. In contrast, electronic devices are much more complex and expensive to recycle, recover and reuse due to the toxic nature of many of their components, and current systems are still in the early stages.
61.5% of all paper in America is recycled and 72% of all paper in Europe is recycled. That amounts to 2 tonnes of paper being recycled every second in Europe alone!
Paper is made from more than 60 percent biofuels. Paper mills use what’s left over from the manufacturing process to generate bioenergy on site. This serves to:
- Divert waste from landfills
- Decrease the overall carbon footprint of paper products
- Decrease dependency on coal and other fossil fuels
- Help meet green energy goals
Some paper grades such as newsprint and packaging materials utilise up to 100% recycled fibre. However, due to high quality requirements, paper for recycling is not suitable for use in all paper grades, such as fine paper. Even though fine paper is seldom made from recycled fibres, it is itself an excellent and important source of raw material in the paper recycling process.
Paper production uses more water to produce one tonne of product than any other industry. However, the paper industry returns over 85% of the water it uses. So the next time someone tells you that paper production uses too much water, you know that the industry returns the large majority of the water it uses.
"There aren’t many industries around that can aspire to becoming genuinely sustainable. The paper industry, however, is one of them; it is inherently sustainable." Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder, Forum for the Future, January 2016