Paper and print sustainability

The paper industry: common assumptions and the reality

When it comes to print and paper sustainability, it is important to distinguish reality from everyday life. The European paper industry is a world leader in sustainable sourcing, renewable energy and recycling rates.

Contro i luoghi comuni sulla carta

Commissioned by Two Sides, a study conducted by Toluna (an independent market research company), involving a survey of 6,000 people from eight different countries (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom), showed that there are many common assumptions that tend to cause misunderstandings and spread misleading information about the world of paper.

Common assumption: 59% believe that Europe's forested areas are declining.

Reality: European forests have grown by an area equivalent to more than 1,500 football pitches every day (the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2015. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015).

These forests provide over 90% of the wood used by the European paper industry (the Two Sides analysis of data published by FSC and PEFC, 2017).

le foreste europee sono cresciute di oltre 1.500 campi da calcio ogni giorno

Common assumption: 63% think only recycled paper should be used.

Reality: as cellulose fibre degrades over time, virgin fibre is essential for European paper production.

53% of the fibre used by the European paper industry comes from recycled paper (CEPI Statistics, 2018).

Common assumption: 53% believe that digital communication is more environmentally sustainable.

Reality: the telecommunications industry accounts for about 2.5-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and this share is expected to rise to 14% by 2040 (Belkhir and Elmeligi, 2018).

In 2016, telephones accounted for 435,000 tonnes of e-waste (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2018).

Common assumption: 53% think that an excessive volume of water is used to produce paper.

Reality: Most paper production occurs in places with low water stress.

93% of the water is treated and subsequently returned to the environment (CEPI, Water Profile in 2015).

Common assumption: 33% think that paper is just a waste product to be disposed of.

Reality: in Europe the paper recycling rate is 72.3%, not far below the theoretical maximum recycling rate, i.e. 78% (European Council for Paper Recycling, 2018. Monitoring Report 2017).

In Europe, paper fibres are reused on average 3.6 times (European Council for Paper Recycling, 2018. Monitoring Report 2017).

in Europa il tasso di riciclo della carta è del 72,3 per cento

Common assumption: 25% think paper production is the biggest cause of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Reality: The cellulose and paper industry is the largest single industrial user and producer of renewable energy in the EU (CEPI, Sustainability Report, 2018).

The sector's CO2 emissions decreased by 25% between 2005 and 2017 (CEPI Statistics, 2018).

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