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Market News

 October 03, 2007
State of the Paper Industry Sees 'Green Wave' Changes Coming Quickly

 Asheville, N.C. -- The new report, released by the Environmental Paper Network, examines how the paper is made today in the face of growing environmental awareness in the U.S., and calls for major changes across the industry to reduce impact and increase sustainability.

The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) is a coalition of environmental organizations seeking socially and environmentally sustainable transformations within the pulp and paper industry. The group's "State of the Paper Industry" report has been billed as the first to comprehensively address how the industry sources its materials, addresses supply chain issues, deals with end-of-life for its products, and its impacts on communities and the climate.

The need for this assessment, the group says, is that a "green wave" is sweeping North America, with ever-increasing numbers of consumers and companies seeking to address and minimize their impact on the environment. In recent months, companies across many niches of the industry have adopted green paper policies, including Victoria's Secret, Williams Sonoma, Staples, FedEx-Kinkos and Random House.

"The good news is that a shift within the paper industry has begun, and corporate leaders are emerging across every sector to embrace new tools for responsible choices, responsible production and major climate, health and forest benefits," said Joshua Martin, Environmental Paper Network Coordinator.

Martin said the report offers a vision and a challenge to the paper industry and hopes to set a baseline of environmental data that companies can use to make significant progress in coming years.

The report's findings detail a list of negative environmental impacts, including:
  • The paper industry is the fourth largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries.
  • Paper accounts for 25 percent of landfill waste, the largest of any single component.
  • Paper production accounts for over 40 percent of the world's industrial wood harvest
  • Paper production is one of the world's largest consumers and polluters of fresh water
  • Paper production continues to come into conflict with indigenous and other communities around the world over land rights, culture, human health, and livelihoods
But at the same time, the green wave cited by the report's authors include significant opportunities for companies to embrace:
  • Growing market demand for environmentally responsible paper products
  • Growing acreage of Forest Stewardship Council certified sustainable forestry
  • Cleaner production and alternatives to chlorine bleaching
  • Increasing recovery of waste paper
  • The emergence of innovative, corporate leaders.
Among the improvements the EPN would like to see from the industry are responsible, certified forestry practices, paper recyling and recovery, a move to reduce paper consumption by its customers, and a shift toward clean production that reduces bleach and toxin emissions.

The full report, "The State of the Paper Industry: Monitoring the Indicators of Environmental Performance," is available for download