5 eco-friendly facts about paper
Paper is one of the most commonly used products worldwide. From packaging to product development and marketing, it's versatility and reusability has made it a popular resource in many global industries. At the same time, paper production has become a useful asset in the fight against climate change. Here are five more things you probably didn't know about paper.
1. Paper supports sustainable forest management
Some people believe the paper industry is responsible for a large chunk of global deforestation. In fact, only 11% of the world's wood harvest is used for paper production. The majority of deforestation (90%) is actually caused by unsustainable agricultural practices. Paper production, on the other hand, promotes sustainable forest management which helps to counter deforestation.
In Australia, the majority of our natural forests are protected and subject to conservation and sustainable management plans. As a result, Australian paper is solely produced from planted forests where the growth and harvesting process is carefully monitored. Since 1994, these planted forests have more than doubled in size while still providing an ongoing supply of wood fibre.
2. Paper is one of the few truly renewable resources
Since paper is based on wood fibres, it's one of the few products whose lifecycle can actually go full circle. That's because wood is an all-natural resource that can be planted, grown, harvested and replanted again and again.
3. Even recycled paper needs new fibres
They key to sustainability in the paper industry is the so-called virgin fibres (newly harvested wood fibres). These are needed to prolong the lifecycle of paper since recycled fibres naturally begin to degrade after several uses. To ensure this doesn't happen, old fibres are regularly 'topped up' with fresh wood fibres. That's why planted forests are such an important part of the recycling process.
4. Paper actually has a low carbon footprint
Some people are under the impression that paper production leaves a high carbon footprint. An interesting statistic, however, is that pulp paper and print are only responsible for 1.1% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. That makes paper one of the smallest emitters globally.
What's more, sustainably managed planted forests help remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Paper products made from these forests store the carbon throughout their lifetime. So, it's safe to say paper is a reliable foot soldier in our fight against climate change.
5. Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world
Although digital media have become a well-established part of our daily lives, paper remains one of the most commonly used resources worldwide. On average, Australians use around 230kg of paper per person each year. This isn’t surprising. As there are so many paper sizes in Australia, the uses for paper are near endless. Fortunately, Australia has also positioned itself as a world leader in paper and cardboard recycling with 87% of all paper and cardboard being recycled nationally.
With sustainable forestry thriving and the desire for greener products becoming more prominent, paper is back in people's good graces. And we have a hunch it's here to stay.