Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Are paper industries a global environment menace?

Every day we consume paper, most of us don’t even realize how much amount we use. But also quite often we see criticism published towards the paper industry, and how it is becoming a huge global warming menace. Here are some usual facts that appear in the reports about paper industry as this one seen on the Daily Green:

  1. Forests store 50% of the world's terrestrial carbon.
  2. Half the world's forests have already been cleared or burned, and 80% of what's left has been seriously degraded.
  3. 42% of the industrial wood harvest is used to make paper.

After reading these facts and reading a lot of magazines that talked about paper industries killing the rainforest I got really disappointed at their not-green practices. But then I read the article “Communicating the value of paper” by Mark Rushton in PPI Magazine, where he talks about the horizon that paper industries are facing:
“Paper, in this modern age, is still seen by the general public – despite billions of dollars of effort worldwide – as a tree killing, planet polluting industry that is adding to global warming. Another problem is the serious pressure that margins are under, increased energy prices, future wood procurement issues, even the fight for land. And then there is the new media problem, let’s face it, even us people in the paper industry now use the Internet everyday, sometimes all day.
An example of the dilemma facing paper producers was highlighted in no uncertain terms by one of the guest speakers at the Lisbon conference, a fiery lady called Sally Cartwright, the Publisher at Large of Hello! Magazine – and a significant buyer of magazine grade paper. She lectured the assembled industry people: “I know you paper makers are doing all you can on the environment, I have been around some of your mills, but you are rubbish at getting your message across to the masses, they all still think that paper comes from the rainforests.” ”

So I noticed that I didn’t really know how paper is produced and if it really harm the environment as published in a lot of articles. I found a video from Stora Enso where they explain how their paper is produced and where the raw material comes from:

Not all the paper companies worldwide are a threat to the environment. There are some companies that are responsible, that have certified forestry practices, paper recycling and recovery programs, and that are making a shift toward clean production that reduces bleach and toxin emissions; with the aid of some biotechnology . These companies also provide jobs and help the economies. The WWF recently published its guide to buying “green” paper which can be useful when choosing which company you select to buy paper from. Also you can check for FSC certified products, companies that have been certified provide incentives for responsible forestry.

I think that before making a generalized comment of how harmful paper companies are we should investigate their processes. Maybe there are some companies that are not doing the harm we all thought.

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