Producing paper from wood is the first step in what should always be a virtuous lifecycle for paper. Once virgin fibre papers have been used in their primary use; they can be recycled 4 to 5 further times until the cellulose fibres become too short to be used for paper; at which point they form the de-inking residue that is used in agriculture (e.g. fertiliser) and construction (e.g. bricks).
Each time paper is recycled, environmental savings are made as it takes less energy to produce paper from waste paper than it does from wood which also means less CO2 produced in the manufacturing process and less methane produced from the paper breaking down in landfill.
It takes less water to break down waste paper than it does to break down wood.
If paper recycling is used to the full potential, wood is only needed once to produce 5 cycles of paper which also means saving waste from landfill 5 times.
It only takes 1.2 tonnes of waste paper to produce 1 tonne of recycled paper whereas it takes 2.5 tonnes of wood to produce 1 tonne of virgin fibre paper.
Currently, around 40% of all commercial trees felled worldwide are to satisfy demand for paper (source: WWF). In order to limit the impact of this growing demand, various accreditations and corresponding controls have been devised to ensure that commercial forests comply with environmental, social and economic regulations.
Forest fibres are a primary, renewable resource and in Europe, more trees are grown than harvested. However, as forests sustain wildlife and their own eco-systems, forestry management of these eco-systems is essential.
FSC runs a global forest certification system with two key components: Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification. This system allows consumers to identify, purchase and use timber and forest products produced from well-managed forests. At present, 90% of the virgin fibre content of our papers is FSC certified.
Europe’s paper industry has a very bright future – because it is already a benchmark model of resource efficiency and a perfect fit for the circular economy. It is inherently sustainable by nature: Based on renewable, recyclable raw materials, Europe’s paper industry can produce second- generation biofuels to replace crude oil as well as renewable bio-based products.