Myths & Facts

Myth: European Forests Are Shrinking

Fact: European Forests Have Been Growing By Over 1,500 Football Pitches Every Day

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.

Football pitch surrounded by trees in autumn

Myth: Planted Forests Are Bad For The Environment

Fact: Sustainable Forest Management Preserves Biodiversity and Safeguards Forests For Future Generations

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

Beautiful green forest with mature trees

Myth: Paper Is Bad For The Environment

Fact: Paper Is Highly Recycled And Naturally Sustainable

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

Cardboard waste in a bin ready to recycle

Myth: Only Recycled Paper Should Be Used

Fact: Virgin Fibres From Sustainably Managed Forests Are Needed To Maintain The Paper Cycle

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

Array of sustainable paper packaging laid on a table

Myth: Paper Production Is A Major Cause Of Global Greenhouse Gas Emission

Fact: Most Of The Energy Used In Paper Production Is Renewable And Carbon Intensity Is Surprisingly Low

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

Lightbulbs within green woodland

Myth: Paper Production Consumes An Excessive Amount Of Water

Fact: Paper Production Is Dependent On Water, Yet Relatively Little Is Consumed

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.

Lightbulb and new plant in soil held by two hands

Myth: Electronic Communication Is Better For The Environment Than Paper-Based Communication

Fact: Electronic Communication Also Has Environmental Impacts 

“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.

Woman reading a paper magazine

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