The Great Paper Myth – Environmental Impacts
After years of careless deforestation, the world realized that the sustainability of paper products is vital to the environment. However, myths are circulating about how harmful the timber industry is to the environment. We’re here to ensure you that any paper crisis is not nearly the problem that people perceive it to be. Here’s more information on the life cycle of paper and the strategies that the forestry industry uses to ensure the sustainability of paper.
Myth: People Should Only Use Recycled Paper
Before we talk about the life cycle of paper, let’s dispel this popular myth. All paper, even recycled paper comes from trees. Without new fiber harvested from new trees, we won’t be able to maintain the paper cycle.
The Life cycle of Paper
The life cycle of paper starts with the extraction of the materials needed to make it. Trees are harvested into logs and then shipped to mills for processing.
Once at the mill, the trees are stripped of their bark and chipped into small pieces. The wood chips are mixed with chemicals and cooked into a pulp. Afterward, bleach and chlorine are used to clean the pulp and turn it white.
Next, paper makers place the clean pulp on a screen to allow the water to drain from it. As the water drains the fibers left begin to join together. Next, those fibers are sent through a system of heated rollers that flatten the paper and dries it.
After it’s made, machines wind the paper onto large rolls and then it’s cut into a variety of sizes and packaged. From there your paper travels around the world to retailers and paper distributors everywhere.
Myth: Paper’s Not Environmentally Friendly
There are many myths circulating about paper, and one is that it’s not good for the environment. This assertion simply isn’t true. Paper is one of the few products that is truly sustainable. Paper is wood-based and therefore renewable and natural. We all know that trees play a vital part in the cycle of nature since they absorb CO2 in the air. Here is how the forestry industry fosters sustainability.
How the Forestry Industry Supports Sustainability
Many paper manufacturers seek to clear up any mysteries about where your paper comes from. Some paper producers make paper from the material extracted during the thinning process in forests and sawmill chips. Thinning is the natural process where less developed trees are cut down to allow more nutrients, space, and light for healthier trees. This process is necessary for healthy forests.
Many paper manufacturers also plant trees to replace the ones cut down. Some replant two trees for every tree that they harvest. It’s important to clear up these misconceptions because the forestry industry tries to make sustainability a priority throughout the tree harvesting and paper making process.
Types of Sustainable Paper
Today, paper is one of the worlds most recycled manufactured products. According to paperrecycles.org, in 2017, the U.S recycled 65.8 percent of its paper. So, what counts as environmentally-friendly paper? There are two main types of eco-friendly paper.
Recycled paper is the waste left after consumers have used the paper as opposed to paper made from fresh wood pulp. Notebooks, used paper, packaging, and many more paper products can be used to make recycled paper. There are certain benefits to recycled paper. Fewer trees are cut down when we recycle paper, but if we never cut another tree down to make paper, we’d eventually run out of it.
FSC Certified Paper
FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council and is a non-profit group that consists of environmentalists, community leaders, and businesses that strive to protect forests around the world. This group works with major players in the forestry industry to track timber and inspect the paper making process to ensure sustainability. Any papers that are FSC certified are created using sustainable practices.
The FSC doesn’t just watch out for the forests; they require the timber industry to treat people ethically. Companies that relocate indigenous people during the cutting of timber do not receive the FSC certification.
Paper that meets the FSC requirements is clearly labeled, and many businesses choose this instead of recycled paper because it looks and feels just like traditional paper. Recycled paper differs in appearance and texture.
Myth: Paper Production is a Primary Contributor of the World’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The opposite is true. Most energy used to produce paper is renewable. It also has a low carbon intensity. In fact, the print, paper, and pulp segment accounts for only 1 percent of all manufacturing industry greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Now that you’re aware of the misconceptions of the forestry industry and the paper process, you can feel better about the paper you choose to use. Whether your choice is FSC paper or recycled paper, rest assured that paper manufacturers around the world are trying to solve the problem of deforestation by using sustainable practices.