Little-Known Facts About Sustainability of Pulp and Paper Industry

Many misconceptions exist about the pulp and paper industry. Two Sides North America recently released a fact sheet that outlines key facts and figures about the environmental sustainability of the North American pulp and paper industry.  The information was compiled from over 20 different reports, studies, and sources.

Photo; Liam Pozz on Unsplash

Below are some of the highlights of the fact sheet:

Forest area is stable to growing in North America.  Between 1990 and 2015, forest area in the U.S. expanded from 746 to 766 million acres. This is equivalent to an average growth rate of 1,600 NFL football fields per day.

Sustainable forestry practices, either voluntarily or through regulation, ensure that the majority of harvested areas are replanted to regenerate forests. The key causes of deforestation are not forestry, but rather agriculture, urbanization, hydro and other industrial development (ex: oil and gas). 

Nearly half of the globally certified forests are located in North America.  Forest certification based on standards such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council, promotes strong forest management practices which result in economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially just outcomes.  Many companies in North America comply with these standards. The forest area certified increases annually.

The pulp and paper industry is one of the lowest emitters of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as compared to other major industrial manufacturing industries. This result is due in part to energy efficiency improvements as well as the relatively high use of carbon-neutral biomass (and low use of fossil fuels) in pulp and paper manufacturing. Plus, the North American pulp and paper sector is heavily regulated.  Pulp and paper mills are continuously improving and reporting environmental performance due to changing and evolving environmental regulations. Many companies also go beyond the required regulations as outlined in annual published sustainability reports. 

Paper recovery rates in North America continue to be among the highest in the world.  At 66% and 70% recovery rates in the U.S. and Canada respectively, the amount of paper being recycled continues to increase. These rates are significantly higher than other materials and products such as glass, plastic, metals, and electronics.

Click here to download and read the complete Fact Sheet.

About Two Sides

Two Sides is an independent, nonprofit organization created to promote the sustainability of print and paper.  Two Sides is active globally in North America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. Members span the entire print and paper value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre-press, press, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes, and postal operators.  For more information about Two Sides North America, visit the Two Sides website at and follow Two Sides on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.