About pulp & paper production and use

The pulp and paper industry is one of the largest industrial sectors in the world, and an important source of employment in many countries. A sustainably managed pulp and paper industry can bring many benefits to the local economy and people, particularly in rural areas.
 / ©: © Sandra MBANEFO OBIAGO / WWF
Logs being transported out of the Okomu Wildlife Sanctuary, Nigeria
Around the world we use more than 1 million tons of paper every day. Our paper consumption is escalating, particularly in emerging markets such as China.

Global production

Pulp and paper is produced on all continents. The largest producer countries, US, China, Japan and Canada, make up more than half of the world’s paper production which is 400 million tons a year. That is the equivalent in weight of 80 million elephants.

Pulp and paper is primarily made out of wood fibres originating from natural forests or pulpwood plantations. Recycled fibre and other fibre sources such as agricultural residue are also utilized and recycled fibre is becoming more commonly used in pulp and paper making.

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.


Paper is a versatile product with many end uses varying from household papers, graphic and office papers to medical papers.
 / ©: WWF
How transparent are the paper companies? From the WWF Paper Company Environmental Index 2010
Key paper consumption facts
  • 50% of the paper and board produced globally is used for packaging.
  • The second largest market for paper is printing and writing.
  • 400 million tons/year: Global paper consumption as of 2010. Half of this is consumed by Europeans and North Americans and is thrown away after a short time.  
  • 500 million tons: Forecasted increase in paper consumption by 2020.
Don't flush our forests and wildlife down the toilet / ©: Kurt Prinz
Don't flush our forests and wildlife down the toilet
© Kurt Prinz

Public benefits of paper

Paper has been an integral part of our cultural development and is essential for modern life. Paper helps to increase levels of literacy and democracy worldwide and plays an important role in protecting goods and foodstuffs during transit. 

Pulp and paper production often provides well needed jobs in many areas where other employment opportunities are limited. 

Paper is made from renewable resources, and responsibly produced and used paper has many advantages over other, non-renewable alternative materials such as plastic. Responsible production also minimizes harmful impacts on the forests, climate, and water.

 / ©: Zeb Hogan / WWF
Three Khmer boys reading fish conservation book. On the banks of the Tonle Sap River, Cambodia
© Zeb Hogan / WWF
  •  / ©: WWF / Roger Leguen

    WWF Pulp & Paper programme

    Through the Pulp and Paper programme, WWF engages with stakeholders to bring about sustainable forestry, clean pulp and paper manufacturing, and promote responsible paper consumption. Find out more ►

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.