Every year, around 405 million tonnes of paper and paperboard are produced, totaling rougly 13-15% of total wood consumption. With demand for paper products increasing, global production could double by 2050. Paper production has a significant footprint on the environment. The sector is the fourth largest industry when it comes to energy consumption, and paper production requires a significant amount of water, depending on the efficiency of the mill, and uses more water than other industries such as steel and petrol.
Unsustainable paper production and consumption contributes to deforestation and natural ecosystem degradation in some of the world’s most ecologically important places such as Indonesia and Greater Mekong, and to a lesser extent Latin America. It can also exacerbate social conflicts, as non-responsible practices are still widespread in several countries.
What could happen if the majority of the sector continues "business as usual"?
Increasing demand for pulp, paper, and packaging spurs demand for virgin fibers and will increase the need to harvest trees and to establish new plantations. If forests and plantations are not managed sustainably, this will put higher pressure on natural forests.
Conversion of natural ecosystem and land for tree plantations, with the production of pulp, paper and packaging being a main driver of deforestation in several deforestation fronts.
Unsustainable management of tree plantations coupled with certification fatigue.
Increased social impacts (land tenure rights, land-use conflicts, land claims) due to land use management that does not follow adequate social safeguards.
The production of pulp, paper and packaging has undeniable benefits which should not be ignored, such as economic development, improvement in infrastructure, and jobs generation. But it must be sustainable and shift to a low impact production and consumption model that integrates responsible management of plantations and other natural and semi-natural productive forests, pulp and paper processing, conservation, restoration, and leads to improved livelihoods.
Responsible pulp, paper, and packaging operations can bring many benefits to forests, local economies and people, particularly in rural areas.
WWF aims to ensure that the sector is not driving deforestation or biodiversity loss, that it protects and restores natural ecosystems, invests in sustainable forest landscapes, contributes to local economic and social development, and takes action that shift supply chains and markets towards sustainability.
Through its impact-focused programme Forests Forward, WWF engages companies that are willing to source responsibly and drive positive change for the environment and people.
Together with other NGOs, WWF is also closely monitoring the paper industry to ensure that the sector is overall improving its performance.
WWF strongly recommends that companies and financial investors end their business relationships ...
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