Paper for print: Sustainability versus Recycling

By 15/07/2015December 14th, 2015Full Fat Blog, Industry News

Wow! How confusing is this as a topic? When buying a piece of print you can be bamboozled with jargon galore regarding how the paper material you have chosen has been produced and whether or not it will end up in a landfill, be recycled or reused under a different guise. Of course, the majority of well-educated print consumers want to see it recycled and used again, or possibly has been already recycled and their leaflet or brochure is a bi-product of a recycling process already in full swing.

We All can’t use Recycled paper all of the Time!

However, that isn’t so clear cut. The overarching phrase we need to understand is not recycling, but sustainability! Think about it for a minute; if we all purchased recycled papers and boards, then there would be no virgin fibres at all to recycle and we would soon run out of recycled paper to print on. To put the dilemma for the print industry, in a nutshell, we all can’t use recycled papers all of the time. So what is the right think for a print consumer to do!

Paper is far from a Dirty product.

This is where we need to take a hard, hard look at the print and paper industry. It’s not as Dirty as you might first think! Paper Mills have come a long long way in recent years and the image of bulldozers indiscriminately destroying vast hectares of virgin forestry is well and truly consigned to the history books. Think of paper forests as a farmers’ field, thoughtfully and purposely growing a product to produce an economic yield. Today the paper industry throughout the world operates under the strict global legislation, each seedling that is planted is managed, monitored, studied and crucially replaced! Just like a wheat field in Cambridgeshire, a forestry plantation in Portugal, for example, produces valuable bi-products during its life which are vital for the environments. In the case of paper, it is of staggering global importance.

Paper Manufacturing Creates Forestation.

We are all now well aware of global warming, the impact years of heavy industry has had on our sea levels, land temperatures and the lives of millions of people who have adversely been affected by these catastrophic changes. Paper production is a masterclass in aligning industry with the environment. We all know of the issues of deforestation, but the culprits here are not solely paper users. In fact, paper consumption is thought to represent at most less than 7%. The construction industry and the transition of forest to agriculture represents over 85% of forest clearings throughout the world. In fact in Europe where the vast majority of UK paper is produced from, has in fact seen a 30% increase in forestation, supporting a healthy European biodiversity, protecting co2 levels in the environment and encouraging natural habitats and wildlife to flourish. Managed forests grow at a staggering rate.

Next time you consider the impact of print and paper on the environment consider paper used for print to be wholly sustainable regardless of the fact whether it is a recycled grade. Paper is based on wood, one of the truly sustainable and renewable products on earth, absorbing co2 from the atmosphere throughout its lifecycle. Paper is a good product and the world needs it as pressures on the planet inevitably grow.