Pulp and paper | WWF
	© WWF Switzerland / A. della Bella / WWF

Pulp and paper

Paper products are crucial to society: they have enabled literacy and cultural development. But without changing current paper production and consumption practices, growing demand for paper adds pressure on the Earth’s last remaining natural forests, aquatic ecosystems and endangered wildlife.
WWF advocates reducing wasteful consumption of wood and paper. But even with more frugal use and greater efficiency, net demand is likely to grow with rising population and incomes in developing countries. So how can we produce more paper without destroying or degrading forests and ecosystems, in a world where competition for land and water is increasing?

This challenge spans the whole supply chain, from where and how wood is grown and harvested to how wisely and efficiently it is processed, used and reused. It also involves changes to consumption patterns – like eliminating excessive and wasteful use of paper in rich societies, while improving access for the poor to paper products that can improve education, hygiene and food safety.

Advancing technology is enabling new uses of wood and its core chemical components in composites, films and chemically processed speciality cellulose. Such uses can add significantly to the volume of wood that needs to be extracted from forests or grown in plantations.

Global production and trends

Pulp and paper is made of wood fibres originating from natural forests or pulpwood plantations. Over half of the resource comes already from recycled fibre and other fibre sources such as agricultural residue.  There is however still potential for growth in recycled fibre use.

Globally the production of pulp is led by North America (36 percent), which accounts for over one third of the pulp production. A further 25 percent of the global pulp production comes from Europe, 21 percent from Asia and 15 percent from Latin America. In 2016, the total global pulp production was 181 million metric tons.

Globally the production of paper is led by Asia. Europe is the world's second-largest paper producer, producing some 26 percent of the world's paper supply, followed by North America (20 percent) and Latin America (55 percent). In 2016, the total world paper production was 411 million metric tons.

Wood chips waiting for pulp making system, Shandong, China

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation from the United Nations (FAO), pulp production is expected to remain stable over the next five years.  Growth in global capacity, largely driven by Brazil and Russia, is expected to increase by 48 percent (for Brazil), and 18 percent (for Russia). 

Many global pulp and paper companies are moving their production to the South due to lower production costs and proximity to fast growing pulpwood plantations. Hence, responsible pulpwood plantations practices are urgently needed. Unsustainable logging by some businesses in the paper industry seriously degrades forests, accelerates climate change and leads to wildlife loss. Such practices also affect people who depend directly on forests.
	© WWF International
© WWF International

WWF´s vision

WWF’s vision is that of a pulp and paper industry that enables a clean, healthy, just and sustainable future for all life on earth, as reflected in  the Environmental Paper Network Global Paper Vision which we have signed along with100 NGOs around the world.
WWF engages companies and other stakeholders in various ways around the world to:
  • stop destructive forest management
  • encourage environmentally, socially responsible production and consumption of paper products, that are credibly certified 
  • Conserve and restore forests and other ecosystems (wetlands, peatlands and grasslands)
	© WWF International
Clic to enlarge the infographic
© WWF International

How can this trend be reversed?

Through its pulp and paper work, WWF works with various stakeholders to manage forests sustainably, promote responsible pulp and paper manufacturing as well as paper consumption.

What WWF is doing

  • Promoting responsible pulpwood sourcing, clean pulp and paper production, responsible paper use, and transparency across pulp and paper producers and buyers. Find out more here.  
  • Supporting the preservation of high conservation values (HCV) in WWF’s priority places 
  • Co-ordinating transformative partnerships such as the WWF Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) an initiative supporting responsible trade of timber and paper products, and the New Generation Plantations Platform (NGP) allowing the forest product industry, regulators, investors and other stakeholders to debate, learn from, and improve practices in plantations 
  • Supporting responsible investments across the pulp and paper sector
  • Promoting the conservation and restoration of forest ecosystems (wetlands, peatlands, grasslands)
  • Promoting fairer access to paper resources globally and reducing wasteful consumption. In order to achieve this, we have joined forces with 100 NGOs in the European Environmental Paper Network
  • Closely monitoring the pulp and paper sector to ensure that companies follow their pledges to stop deforestation and address their legacy 
We need more recycled fibre use 
	© WWF International
Potential for more recycled fibre use
© WWF International

WWF solutions

Paper is too valuable to waste!  A video by the Environmental Paper Network. 

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