Not everything you've heard about the paper industry is true! Our aim here is to clear up some of the myths that have grown up around paper, and to provide you with more information on the manufacturing process and the importance of paper to our lives.
"Paper is bad for the environment"
Not true! Paper is a natural product: renewable, ecological and biodegradable. As saplings grow to tall trees, they gradually absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. On top of this, as a wood-based product, paper carries on storing the carbon throughout its lifetime.
When woodlands are properly planted, managed and used, they absorb more carbon dioxide than a mature forest, made up of older trees.
The advantages of paper production are felt not just in woodlands, but also in the wider environment. When responsibly managed, woodlands can be certified.
"All paper should be made from recycled fibres"
Virgin fibre paper and recycled fibre paper each have their distinct place in consumer habits. It's essential to incorporate virgin fibre to ensure the sustainability of the paper production cycle.
When choosing what paper to buy, think about the whole life-cycle and not just where the fibres are sourced from. In any case, 40% of the fibre used in recycled paper has to be virgin fibre.
"Making paper destroys forests"
This is also not true. Europe's woodlands have grown by almost 17 million hectares over the last 20 years, meaning that the area added each year is more than 11 times the size of the island of Madeira.
In Northern Europe, where most ancient woodlands are protected, paper is sourced from renewable forest plantations, where the whole cycle - planting, growth and extraction - is carefully controlled. Even in countries that use natural forests, such as Russia and Canada, the wood extracted corresponds to only a fraction of the growth recorded each year.
"Paper consumes a lot of energy"
The pulp industry have been remarkably reducing its energetic requirements. This is one of the biggest renewable energies users and with low levels of carbon emissions.
In Europe, more than half of the energy used to produce paper comes from renewable sources and 52% of the energy used by paper industry is based on biomass. In fact, paper and pulp industry are responsible for 27% of biomass total production, in the European Union.
"Paper as a communication medium generates a lot of waste"
The truth is that the European paper industry's track record in recycling is second to none. As collection points and systems have been optimised, recycling rates have improved, Of all the paper and cardboard consumed in Europe, around 19% cannot be recycled.
This includes toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, nappies, cigarette paper, food wrappers, etc.. Paper is one of the few communication media which can be 100% recycled, offering an excellent source of fibre for recycling and conversion into new paper products.
"Paper has a large carbon footprint"
Trees are the main raw material for paper; they also serve as a vast carbon store and absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than anything else. It is difficult to compare the exact carbon footprint of every type of paper, as it depends on how the paper is produced and what energy source is used in the process.
The European Council has recognised that wood products are environmentally friendly. Sustainable woodlands management help to cut global carbon dioxide emissions.