Responsible Paper

We use more than 1 million tonnes of paper every day. And paper consumption is growing fast, particularly in emerging markets such as China.

If certain companies don’t change how they produce paper, packaging and tissue products, we will lose some of the Earth’s last natural forests and the animals that depend on them. Similarly, some pulp and paper mills are seriously polluting rivers and the air.

But there are ways to better produce paper, packaging and tissue products. Companies have access to tools and support from WWF to develop and operate mills in a cleaner way, and examples on how to establish and manage plantations in a better way - one that is mindful of the importance of forests and the local people who depend on them.

What we need now is for companies around the world to adopt these better ways of producing and sourcing as the new ‘normal’.
How can we move production to more sustainable practices? Find out about WWF's Market Transformation Initiative ►

Growing paper consumption means we need more 'better' paper

Some of the trees used for paper are grown in well-managed forests. But too much of the paper used is still the result of illegal logging, and of the destruction of old forests and high conservation value forests.

Some proposed new pulpwood plantations and mills threaten the remaining natural forests in SumatraBorneo, and the Russian Far East, to respond to the growing demand for paper and tissue products.

The wood sourcing of pulp and paper companies from these places can threaten the natural home of rare wildlife species such as big cats (including tigers), elephantsrhinos, and orangutans.

► Find out about the environmental impacts of paper production
40% Proportion of annual industrial wood harvest processed to make paper and paperboard (source: WWF Living Forests Report)

Our approach

We work with producers to help them manage forests and plantations in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. FSC is the certification label that best guarantees this. Our main tool to support this is the Global Forest and Trade Network. We also work with the industry to develop better plantations, through the New Generation Plantations platform.

In fact, research shows that FSC can also be good business. Some companies have been able to improve their market access, secure more stable contracts and favourable credit arrangements, and improve production efficiency and their public image.

We work with the producing mills to also reduce the pollution to air and water to near zero.

Buyers of paper and related products
We work with those who buy paper and related products, such as tissue and packaging material, to make sure there is a demand for better produced paper products. We urge them to only buy and sell FSC certified paper and recycled paper, and help them to do so with guides and rating tools.

Using more recycled paper is a way to reduce the need for more increased harvest in a growing population, as shown in the Living Forest Report.

Paper users
Paper is a valuable resource. We work with paper users to ensure that the paper they buy is used in the most appropriate way, reducing wasteful consumption and ensuring that more can be done with the same amount of paper.

Our goal is that this will become the new normal fast.

We also inform end-consumers about the environmental and social impacts of paper production. When needed, WWF runs campaigns to expose bad practices and promote better products.

We assist policy-makers to draft laws that support better production practices, and for them to have greener paper purchasing practices.

WWF Targets

2020: 25% of global paper produced from trees (virgin fibres) is FSC-certified. We focus particularly on a few areas of global importance for conservation.

2020: 60% of global pulp and paper production uses recycled material


6.4% of overall paper and board are FSC-certified for their virgin fibre (August 2015)

55.2% of overall papers and board use recycled material (August 2015)

More examples of how transforming markets can make a difference can be found here.


We work with those who manage trees or plantations to make sure this happens without threatening the environment or degrading people’s quality of life and wellbeing.

One way to make this happen is certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an independent organization. FSC certification is based on conservation efforts that go clearly beyond the law, and is the only forest certification scheme that requires companies to protect all high conservation values.

What is considered of high conservation value is clearly defined and includes environmental and social criteria, including the protection of sites and resources of high cultural importance to local communities or indigenous peoples.

FSC is also the only forest certification scheme with a robust control mechanism that requires yearly audits of certified forest companies to assess and verify that the criteria are implemented on the ground. These audits require consultation with all stakeholders affected by the forestry operations.

It is for these reasons, that for WWF, FSC is the certification label that best guarantees social and environmental responsible management of forests.


► WWF Global Forest and Trade Network
► WWF Check your Paper database: get easy public access to the environmental performance of products posted by transparent producers
► New Generation Plantations platform:  share ideas & learn about better plantation forestry practices through real-world examples.
► WWF paper tools and guidance for buyers and producers
► Transparent companies disclose their environmental footprint to WWF


Forest conversion; Illegal harvesting; Social conflicts; Habitat conversion; Air and water pollution, solid waste.
Protecting high conservation value forests; More recycling; Circular economy; Transparency in the paper processing sector; Improving access to paper to expand education and information in developing countries.
	© FSC
    The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. fsc.org

Priority Countries

  • Production
    Indonesia, Brazil, Chile, Russia, Japan


    EU, China, India, USA


  • Demand drivers
    Income, population, consumption (in particular, product packaging)

    Future focus for success
    Increase transparency and environmental commitment of major pulp and paper producers globally and target buyers sourcing mainly from Indonesia, Latin America and Russia.

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