Change is on the Horizon: Environmental Paper Revolution has Begun
New Report Details State of the Paper Industry; Calls for Transformation of Forest Practices, Paper Production, and Smarter Purchasing and Consumption Decisions
Asheville, NC – Today, the Environmental Paper Network, a diverse group of environmental organizations joined together to support socially and environmentally sustainable transformations within the pulp and paper industry, released a report detailing the environmental impacts of the paper industry. The State of the Paper Industry is the first comprehensive report addressing fiber sourcing, recycling, consumption, paper production, and the paper industry’s impact on communities and the climate crisis.
A green wave is sweeping North America and more and more companies are scrutinizing their impact on the planet and taking action to reduce their footprint. This transformation has even impacted the paper industry where companies from all sectors including the magazine, book and catalog industries, office supply retailers, apparel stores and the financial service sectors have adopted green paper policies. From Victoria’s Secret and Williams Sonoma to Staples and FedEx-Kinkos to Raincoast Books and Random House, companies are increasing their use of recycled paper, scrutinizing the forest practices associated with paper production, and examining their impact on the global climate.
“This report is a comprehensive environmental review of an industry that continues to be one of our planet’s most significant environmental challenges,” said Joshua Martin, Environmental Paper Network Coordinator. “The good news is that a shift within the paper industry has begun, and corporate leaders are emerging across every sector to embrace new tools for responsible choices, responsible production and major climate, health and forest benefits. This report offers a broadly supported Vision and a challenge to the industry while documenting a baseline of environmental data for monitoring real progress and identifying real leaders in years to come.”
The report finds:
The industry continues to have far-reaching, negative environmental impacts:
• The paper industry is the fourth largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries.
• Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste, the largest of any single component.
• Paper production accounts for over 40% of the world’s industrial wood harvest
• Paper production is one of the world’s largest consumers and polluters of fresh water
• Paper production continues to come into conflict with indigenous and other communities around the world over land rights, culture, human health, and livelihoods
Innovation and a cultural shift are providing many environmental opportunities:
• Growing market demand for environmentally responsible paper products
• Growing acreage of Forest Stewardship Council certified sustainable forestry
• Cleaner production and alternatives to chlorine bleaching
• Increasing recovery of waste paper
• The emergence of innovative, corporate leaders.
The “State of the Industry” report details how an industry known for forest degradation, toxic pollution, and resistance to change is starting to shift. Though the shift has begun, there is a critical need for improvement across the boards.
Responsible Forestry – every day more companies embrace Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, but unsustainable forestry practices still prevail around the world and are getting worse in places like the global South.
Recycling – more companies continue to increase the use of recycled paper in their products, but improvements in paper recovery and investments in infrastructure are sorely needed.
Reduction – more companies getting savvier about reducing paper use, but at the same time, some heavy paper consuming sectors continue to drastically over-consume paper.
Clean production – there is a greater emphasis on reducing chlorine bleach and toxic emissions, but the paper industry as a whole has not embraced many of the best practices.
Global warming – there is a greater awareness of the climate crisis, but in general, there has been a lack of movement from industry to address this critical issue.
Human impacts – some First Nations and progressive paper companies are working together, but exploitation of native people around the world continues at a dizzying pace.
“From continual logging of the world’s endangered forests to a de-emphasis of recycled paper, many companies within the paper industry continue to hide behind business as usual practices or pawn off new practices as ‘green’,” said Nicole Rycroft, Executive Director of Markets Initiative. “We challenge these companies to embrace a truly sustainable paper industry that protects forests and ensures clean water, clean air and a stable climate for future generations.”
The report calls on companies to minimize paper consumption, maximize recycled content, source fiber responsibly, and employ cleaner production methods to reduce their impact on the climate crisis. Additional recommendations include, greater investment in recycling infrastructure, seeking FSC certification, and greater attention to supply chain in order to reduce overall consumption.
“Simple solutions are available for paper companies, retailers, and consumers to create a socially and environmentally responsible paper system,” said Sid Cullipher, Executive Director of Dogwood Alliance. “Make informed purchasing decisions, focus on solutions that advance social and environmental sustainability, and embrace better manufacturing practices.”
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To download a copy of the report or executive summary visit: www.environmentalpaper.org/stateofthepaperindustry
The Environmental Paper Network is a diverse group of environmental organizations joined together to support socially and environmentally sustainable transformations within the pulp and paper industry. The Network developed the Common Vision as a framework to guide necessary shifts in production and consumption.
The Steering Committee of the EPN includes: As You Sow, Borealis Centre, Conservatree, Co-Op America, Dogwood Alliance, Environmental Defense, ForestEthics, Green Press Initiative, Markets Initiative, and National Wildlife Federation.
To contact report authors or spokespeople at the above groups, please call or email Scot Quaranda at 828.251.2525 x18 or [email protected]