logo   Factsheet1: Business
    Main areas of concern
    This page last updated 3rd December 2008
    According to WWF, the demand for timber, including paper products, means that ‘Illegal logging occurs in all types of forests, from Brazil to Canada, Cameroon to Kenya, and from Indonesia to Russia, destroying nature, damaging communities and distorting trade.’ http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/forests/problems/forest_illegal_logging/index.cfm

The UK is the world's third largest importer of illegal timber and pulp.

The pulp and paper industry consumes 42 percent of all wood harvested for industrial uses. (Source: National Resources Defense Council)  

Of course, using recycled paper saves trees, and lots of them. It’s difficult to give exact figures as it depends upon the type of paper being made and the trees that it’s being made from (ie. what type of tree, how old it is, if it’s hardwood or softwood etc.), but Conservatree estimates that 1 tonne of 50% post-consumer content copier paper saves 12 trees.

To be absolutely sure that your paper has not had a detrimental effect on any forest environment, use 100% recycled paper. If this is not possible, a mixture or, as a last resort, FSC certified paper is the best way to ensure your paper doesn’t come from illegal sources.

    50-90% of a piece of print’s carbon footprint is already incurred by paper manufacture.
(Source: Print Week).

The pulp and paper industry is the third largest emitter of global warming pollution in industrialized nations. (Source: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations)

In general, recycled paper production uses less energy than virgin paper production.

On a positive note, the paper industry is now also the biggest user and producer of renewable energy sources. (Source: Worldwatch Institute). Some producers use the by-products of the pulp production process as bio-fuel, virtually eliminating their carbon dioxide emissions.

    The paper industry is said to be the single largest industrial consumer of water – and water polluter – in European countries. (SEE CEPI report above).

Water conservation is essential - ‘Climate change and poor resource management is leading to water shortages in even the most developed countries.’ (Source: WWF)

The UN predicts that by 2025 1.8bn people will be affected by water scarcity.

Pollution and Waste    

Whilst waste treatment, especially in European mills, has improved in recent years, many mills still release a variety of pollutants into the surrounding air and water. Some of these are greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. Others can affect the more immediate surroundings that local people and wildlife rely on and contribute to air pollution, acid rain and the degradation of freshwater and marine ecosystems.
See WWF Paper Buyer’s Guide for more information.

The paper making process also generates large amounts of solid waste which must be disposed of, most notably the sludge from the fillers, coatings, wood fibres etc.

Most paper produced in the EU and the US is now produced using Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) processes. However, there are several types of ECF processes and most still release pollutants, so try to use Process Chlorine Free (PCF), Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) or unbleached paper. Look for natural white rather than brilliant white papers.

Landfill & Incineration    
    ‘Britain throws more waste into landfill than any other country in the EU, and these sites are expensive for the council taxpayer and damaging to the environment.’
(Source: Local Government Authority http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=1033240)

An area the size of Warwick is already being used to dump Britain's rubbish and unless the ways of people and business change then the UK will run out of landfill space in less than nine years time. Reducing waste will also help cut carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
(Source: Local Government Authority)

Landfills are being replaced by incinerators whose toxic fall-out has been proven to be harmful to human health. (Source: Friends of the Earth) http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/waste/issues/incineration_and_landfill_index.html

As paper biodegrades it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is said to be approximately 20 times more powerful than CO2.
(Source: Recycle Now)

Specifying recycled paper is a good way to ease these problems.

    Useful links
Lovely As A Tree   Paper Issues

Choosing paper


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    This is one of a series of five factsheets.

1. The Studio
2. Innovation
3. Paper
4. Print
5. Digital

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