The paper and pulp industry is plagued by many myths and falsehoods. On the contrary, print, and paper both have an amazing environmental story to share. Did you know, for example, that 70% less energy is needed to recycle paper, as opposed to making it from raw materials?
So often, we come across the advisory messages: Don’t print, consider the environment or Go paperless and save trees. You will be surprised to learn that paper is one of the most sustainable products that you use today.
Myth 1 – Paper industry is Causing Deforestation:
Reality: Paper, especially in India is a highly agro and rural-based industry. Led by industry in collaboration with the farming community, it brings over nearly 125,000 hectares under pulpwood plantations annually(this is largely degraded marginal lands).
In fact, over 90% of the total wood requirement is met from the agro/farm forestry.
Myth 2 – Paper Industry Consumes large Amounts of Wood & Disturbs The Ecological Balance.
Reality: In truth, paper industry is a wood positive one. Meaning, it grows more trees through its agro-forestry efforts than it harvests. Also, pulp and paper comprise only 3% of the national wood requirement.
The major wood consumption is fuelwood and timber.
Myth 3 – Paper is an Unsustainable Industry.
Sources for paper are wood, waste-paper, and agro-based. Therefore they can easily be regenerated. There is a high amount of waste paper recycling. The paper industry also recycles agricultural waste that would otherwise be simply burnt in the fields.
Paper is also biodegradable, recyclable and sustainable.
Myth 4: Paper Industry is not Water and Energy-Efficient.
Reality: Over the years, the paper industry has improved remarkably on its environmental performance. Integrated paper mills in India alone, generate over 60% of the power they use by repurposing the black liquor from the pulping process. Where paper mills would use 200 cubic meters of water to produce a tonne of paper, now integrated mills have reduced that to 50 cubic meters with efforts on for 40 cubic meter.
Myth 5: Paper industry is on the decline:
Reality: The world production of paper and paperboard was nearly 416 million tonnes in 2016 and predicted to grow much further by 2020. Pulp and paper is a large and growing part of the world’s economy. In India alone, the demand for paper is set to rise by 53% by 2020.
Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products that is all-pervasive. Most of the energy used in its production is renewable and carbon intensity is actually quite low. According to data by Ecofys, “ the paper, pulp and print sector is one of the lowest industrial emitters of greenhouse gasses, accounting for 1% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions”.
Neither are paper and print wasteful products. Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world. In this blog post, we can only scratch the surface of the myths and realities around the paper and its responsible use. But suffice to say that next time you are tempted to print that email, print it.