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FI Insights

Debunking Common Environmental Misconceptions About the Canadian Paper Industry

January 25, 2021

The demand for industries to become more environmentally conscious and place sustainability at the forefront of their missions is more prevalent than ever. However, the rapidly increasing emphasis on sustainability combined with increased interest in consumer education efforts has resulted in some confusion in the marketplace.

Many people believe that digital communication is a more environmentally friendly option than paper, but that is an oversimplified, one-dimensional way of looking at a very complex issue. Print and paper products are an excellent sustainable choice for communications, marketing, information security, product transportation, and knowledge sharing. Most paper is derived from forest raw materials, and the trees that supply these materials are a natural and renewable resource that absorb and sequester carbon from the atmosphere as they grow.

A recent Two Sides survey found that Canadian consumers rank pulp and paper products as a leading cause of deforestation — which is not the case. Responsible wood, pulp and paper production actually ensures the preservation of healthy, growing forests. In fact, the Canadian Paper and Paper-based Packaging industry is one of the most sustainable industries globally. To provide clarification for the general public on related environmental topics such as forestry, greenhouse gas emissions and recycling, Two Sides has released a fact sheet from credible third-party sources on the sustainability of the Canadian Paper and Paper-based Packaging industry:

  • Deforestation is defined as the conversion of forest to other land uses whether human-induced or not. The definition specifically excludes areas where trees have been removed as a result of harvesting or logging and where the forest is expected to regenerate naturally or with the aid of silvicultural measures. – UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2020

  • At the end of 2019, Canada had over 168 million hectares (415 million acres) of independently certified forest land (to either CSA®, SFI® or FSC®). Nearly half of Canada’s forests are certified and 37% of all certified forests worldwide are in Canada, the largest area of any country. – Natural Resources Canada, 2020

  • The forest sector’s ability to generate its own electricity, largely from bioenergy, has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels. Between 2007 and 2017, the forest sector reduced energy use by 24% and total fossil GHG emissions (direct emissions plus indirect emissions from purchased electricity) by 40%. – Natural Resources Canada, 2020

  • Canada recycles almost 70% of its paper and cardboard, making it among the top paper recycling countries in the world. – Forest Products Association of Canada, 2020

The Canadian Paper and Paper-based Packaging industry has achieved and maintained impressive sustainable goals such as being the world leader in paper and cardboard recycling. Also, forests are sustainably managed in Canada so they can continue to provide social and cultural benefits and ecosystem services, while also providing wood-based products to the market.

The forest products industry—including solid wood, pulp, paper and energy products manufacturers—takes the harvesting and regeneration of trees very seriously. The entire forest value chain has evolved over time to efficiently utilize every single part of a harvested tree. The result is an environmental/industrial relationship that produces valuable products that capture carbon and generates very little waste—all while providing wildlife habitat and protecting water quality. It is also a symbiotic relationship that, most importantly, ensures that forested lands remain as working forests for future generations.

Read more about this topic: How the Forest Industry Utilizes Harvested Trees

While it is easy to get lost in the overwhelming sea of ‘information’ and opinion pieces that can be found online, it’s important to always double check that the facts are coming from credible sources. The paper industry has a number of respected certification schemes that ensure the paper we all use has come from a sustainable forest source, which will be more important in the future as we build a more sustainably-minded society.

Sustainability in Pulp & Paper

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