Monday, November 19, 2012



The Paper Industry and Endangered Forests:  Forests of the world where the paper industry threatens endangered forests and high conservation value ecosystems

This map shows the world’s forests.The circles indicate regions of high paper production from natural forests or controversial plantations (Borealis). Green areas are intact forests;yellow areas indicate other forest areas that contain endangered forests.

A: Finnish and northeast Russian old-growth forests,Sami people’s forests; B: Siberian and Russian Far East; C: Indonesian rainforest; D: Tasmanian temperate rainforest; E: Chilean temperate rain-forests; F: Industrial plantations,southern and eastern Brazil,Uruguay and northern Argentina; G: Southern United States native hardwood forests; H: Canadian boreal forest; I: U.S.and Canadian inland temperate rainforest and coastal rainforest.


Source: The State of the Paper Industry/Environmental Paper Network (2007)


In 2009, China surpassed North America in total paper consumption for the first time.

Between 2002 and 2009, exports of recovered paper from the U.S to China have tripled, making waste paper one of the largest US exports.

The average North American consumed 154 lbs (70 kgs) less paper in 2009 than in 2005, an amount equal to 15,000 sheets of copy paper, or a stack almost six and a half feet high.

The annual volume of paper trashed in U.S. landfills decreased by 16 million tons from 2005 to a new total of 26 million tons in 2009.  

STATE OF THE PAPER INDUSTRY: TOP TEN INDICATORS {2011] / Environmental Paper Network


Eucalyptus forest in Thailand, plats for paper industry Stock Photo - 13940614

Plantation forest in Thailand for paper production. Source:


Founded in 2001, Green Press Initiative (GPI) is a non-profit program which takes a collaborative approach towards working with publishers, printers, paper manufacturers and others in the book and newspaper industries to minimize social and environmental impacts, including impacts on endangered forests, impacts on climate change, and impacts on communities where paper fiber is sourced.

What are the impacts of the paper industry and books/newspapers?
The entire paper industry, when accounting for forest carbon loss, emits nearly 750 million tons of C02 equivalent annually – nearly 10% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of over 136 million cars. The U.S. book and newspaper industries combined require the harvest of 125 million trees each year and emit over 40 million metric tons of CO2 annually; equivalent to the annual CO2 emmissions of 7.3 million cars.

Impacts on Endangered Forests:
Each year the U.S book industry uses approximately 30 million trees, and the U.S. newspaper industry consumes 95 million trees. Many of these trees are from old growth and endangered forests, and the demand for paper is encouraging the practice of converting natural forests into single species tree plantations that support only a fraction of the biodiversity.

Impacts on Climate Change
The paper industry is the fourth largest industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and books and newspapers release greenhouse gases thought their lifecycles. Globally, scientist estimate that deforestation is responsible for 25%  of human caused greenhouse gases.

When trees are cut to make paper, not only do they cease to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, but greenhouse gases are released to the atmosphere when plant material not used makes paper decays or is burned as a source of power at the mill. As a result of these emissions and those associated with soil disturbances at the site of harvest, even if  trees are replanted, it can take up to 25 years for a newly planted forest to stop being a net emitter of greenhouse gases, and hundreds of years before they store the same amount of carbon as an undisturbed forest.

GPI worked to complete the first ever Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts report for the U.S. book industry. It was the first comprehensive carbon footprint analysis of a publishing sector and is being used as a model in other paper sectors.  This assessment found that the entire book industry, through all steps of production, retail, and publishing activities, emits a net 8.85 pounds per book.

Impacts on Communities
In Canada, Indonesia, Brazil and many other countries throughout the world, people who rely on forests for their livelihood have been severely impacted by the paper industry.  From the destruction of forests needed to survive to some being forced from their land, the paper industry has disrupted the way of life for these communities.

What is the Book Industry Treatise on Environmentally Responsible Publishing?
The Book Industry Treatise on Environmentally Responsible Publishing is an industry-developed declaration of meaningful environmental goals and timelines for industry transformation. It spurred the adoption of environmental paper policies with nearly 200 publishers and printers, following the guidelines in the Treatise

What are the benefits of recycled paper?
Each ton of recycled fiber that replaces a ton of virgin fiber saves 17-24 mature trees and up to 7.5 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. 
Also, recycling keeps paper out of landfills, which at current levels makes up 26% of landfills. The degradation produces methane a greenhouse gas with 23 times the heat trapping capacity of carbon dioxide and landfills are the source of 34% of methane releases—the single largest source in the U.S.

What are the benefits of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified papers?
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper ensures that the fiber to make paper does not originate from Endangered Forests or areas of social conflict. They work to keep natural and biodiverse forests from being converted to single-species tree farms after harvest and integrate the concerns of indigenous and local communities into forest plans and assessments.

What progress has been achieved in recent years?
GPI’s consistent education and advocacy work have also spurred the development of environmental paper policies from over 180 book publishers – approximately 42% of market-share in the U.S. book sector. This has resulted in a six fold increase in recycled fiber use-- representative of a reduction of over approximately 1.4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to over 250,000 cars/yr) and nearly 3 million trees per year
We’ve helped to advance the development of nearly 30 new eco-paper grades, including recycled, postconsumer recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) fiber content and supported a cut in price premiums by 50%, and there are now 31 U.S. and Canadian printers serving U.S. publishers are now stocking environmental grades in-house.



Source: Paper Industry Technical Association


Historically pulp and paper production has ranked among the most resource-intensive and highly polluting of all manufacturing industries. Besides fibre, the primary inputs into the paper making process are water, energy and chemicals.

In the United States, the paper industry is the largest user per tonne of product of industrial process water (U.S. EPA 2002) and the third largest industrial consumer of energy (U.S. DOE). Also, papermaking is a very chemically intensive process. The pulp and paper industry ranks fourth among industrial sectors in emissions of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals to water, and third in such releases to air.

Paper’s impact on the environment continues even after it has been thrown away. As at early 2008 in the United States, paper and paperboard accounted for the largest portion (34 percent) of the municipal waste stream, and 25 percent of landfill waste after recovery of materials for recycling and composting.

Once in a landfill, paper has the potential to decompose and produce methane, a greenhouse gas with 21 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide (UNEP).

Finally, transportation throughout the system also has significant environmental impacts. Harvested trees or recovered paper are transported to pulp mills, rolls of paper are transported to converters, and finished paper products are transported to wholesale distributors and then on to their retail point of sale. Transportation at each of these stages consumes energy and results in greenhouse gas emissions.

SOURCE: ‘The role of e-billing in reducing the environmental impacts of paper consumption’ Planet Ark Report. 2008.





Close-up of an "unphotocopied" sheet of paper A close-up image of a sheet of "unphotocopied" paper reveals most of the toner has been removed.  

MARCH 2012: A process to "unphotocopy" toner ink from paper has been developed by engineers at the University of Cambridge. The process involves using short laser pulses to erase words and images by heating the printed material to the point that they vaporise. The researchers say it works with commonly used papers and toner inks and is more eco-friendly than recycling. See full story here.

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