In Europe, where almost all primary forests are protected, paper comes from sustainably managed forests where the cycle of planting, growing and logging is carefully controlled.
Forests cover 40% of the European territory and are growing in both area and volume. Currently, the total volume is approximately 28 billion m3, which is growing by around 612 million m3 every year. Less than three quarters of the annual growth is harvested and a net increment of over one quarter of the annual growth is added to the forest stock, every year.
Forests are an extremely important part of the environment. Well-managed sustainable forests give multiple benefits to society, such as livelihoods, ecosystem services and biodiversity, while helping to tackle climate change. To ensure the long-term health of European forests, sustainable forest management underpins how the paper industry operates and sources its main raw material.
Nearly 105 million hectares, 52% of the forest area in Europe, is certified. - Forest Europe, 2021
Paper is based on wood, a natural and renewable material. Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world and epitomises the circular economy model of make, use, recycle and reuse.
Only 16% of European consumers understand that paper and paper-based packaging has a high recycling rate. - Two Sides & Taluna research, 2021
Without new virgin fibres from trees, the paper cycle cannot be maintained. Recycled fibres degrade after several uses and the paper industry needs fresh fibre from sustainably managed forests to keep the renewable cycle going.
Europe is the world leader when it comes to recycling paper, with 74% of paper recycled in 2020. - Cepi, Key Statistics, 2021
The European pulp and paper industry produces original bio-based products using wood, a renewable material. It is also the largest single industrial user and producer of renewable energy in the EU.
The print and paper industry is one of the lowest industrial greenhouse gas emitters in Europe, accounting for just 0.8% of emissions. This is low compared to non-metallic mineral products industries (5.6%) and basic metal industries (4.8%). - European Environment Agency, Annual European Union Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2018, 2020
The pulp and paper industry depends on water in three crucial areas. Firstly, there is rain water that is essential for trees to grow and, through photosynthesis, transform carbon dioxide to oxygen and cellulose, which provides the industry’s primary raw material, wood fibre. Then there is water that is actually used to make pulp and paper, and finally there is the suitably treated effluent.
“Go Paperless”, “Go Green” and “Save Trees” are common messages as many organisations encourage their customers to switch to electronic transactions and communications. But are these appeals based on fact?
Raw materials from digital equipment, servers and power generators are often finite, precious and non-renewable, as well as being notoriously difficult to recycle.
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