Debunking Myths about the Sustainability of Paper and Print
When paper is produced and used responsibly, print materials can be an environmentally sustainable way to communicate. Anyone who questions that fact should read some of the research about the sustainability of paper and print published by Two Sides North America.
The organization points out that paper is made primarily from a natural, renewable source (wood) and has become of the most recycled commodities in the world.
Two Sides North America believes there are two sides to every story. To set the record straight about the sustainability of paper, they publish fact sheets that confirm how much has changed since the 1990s. The North American paper industry now advocates responsible forestry practices and certification, uses renewable, carbon-neutral bio-fuels, and has adopted more efficient paper-making technology.
“North American forests can provide recreational, environmental and economic benefits. They are a very valuable renewable resource that can be managed responsibly to make hundreds of products with sustainable qualities,” says Phil Reibel, President of Two Sides North America. “Much of the raw material used in papermaking comes from recovered paper and residuals from the lumber industry. But wood is essential because paper can only be recycled 5 to 7 times before the fibers break down and become unusable.”
For example, here are just four of the fact sheets they have published to debunk some common misperceptions.
The Facts: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products. Paper is made from a resource that is renewable, recyclable, and compostable. Each year forests in the U.S. and Canada grow significantly more wood than is harvested. On average, about 66% of the energy used by pulp and paper member of the American Forest & Paper Association is generated from carbo-neutral biomass.
The Facts: Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world. When the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) began setting paper recovery goals in 1990, the U.S. paper recovery rate measured 33.5%. In 2014, it was 65.4%. AF&PA members have a goal to increase the U.S. paper recovery rate to more than 70% by 2020. In addition to recovering more paper, we all know more about how to get more environmental benefits from using recycled paper in new products.
The Facts: Forest certification programs are effective tools to demonstrate sustainable forestry. Certification programs are market-based, non-regulatory forest conservation tools designed to recognize and promote environmentally responsible forestry and the sustainability of forest resources. While different forest certification systems are used around the world, they share many basic objectives.
The Facts: Digital media have environmental impacts and may not be “greener” than print and paper. Instead of asking whether paper or electronic communications are better, we should be working to determine which combination of the two has the least impact on the environment. Electronics are made from non-renewable materials and use fossil fuel energy. The sustainability of communications technology depends on conditions such as frequency of use, source of energy used, and end-of-life management of the products.
“North American forests can provide recreational, environmental, and economic benefits. They are a very valuable renewable resource that can be managed responsibly to make hundreds of products with sustainable properties,” says Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America. “Much of the raw material used in papermaking comes from recovered paper and residuals from the lumber industry. But wood is essential because paper can only be recycled 5 to 7 times before the fibers break down and become unusable.”
For more information, check out the infographic below or visit www.twosidesna.org