Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world
Paper receipts are made from cellulose fibre, a natural, recyclable material that originally comes from sustainably managed forests in many regions of the world.
To sustain the global fibre papermaking cycle and the many different paper grades produced, both recycled fibre and fresh wood fibre are essential.
Globally, recovered paper is the most important papermaking fibre raw material and makes up over 56% of fibre used by the pulp and paper industry.1 In Europe, it makes up 50% of the raw material used in the paper industry.2
On an international level, Europe is the world leader in paper recycling with a paper recovery rate of 72.3%, followed by North America (68.1%).
– American Forest & Paper Association, 2019 & FPAC, 2015 & European Paper Recycling Council, 2018.
A recycling rate of 78% is likely the practical maximum because many paper products cannot be recovered for recycling due to long-term storage or archiving (books and other records), and others are destroyed or contaminated when used (e.g. paper towels and tissue paper).3
In Europe, paper fibres are re-used in recycling 3.6 times on average, while the world average is 2.4 times.4 In other words, paper cannot be recycled indefinitely because fibres get too short and break down during the papermaking process. Due to these limitations, the use of fresh wood fibres from sustainably-managed forests is essential to sustain the global fibre and papermaking cycle.
Fresh wood fibres often come from by-products of lumber production (i.e. sawmill chips and sawdust) or from thinning forest stands, a common forestry practice to encourage the growth of larger diameter trees for use in lumber and plywood production.5 For example, in Canada, 87% of the fibre used to make paper comes from sawmill residues (59%) and recycled paper (28%).6 In the U.S., 9% of the material used in pulp production comes from forest residues and manufacturing residuals and 32% comes from sawmill chips.7
Paper is only one among many forest products from sustainably managed forests. The efficient use of recycled paper and sawmill by-products are a key part of the circular economy of papermaking – allowing for greater fibre efficiency and raw material use.
- Jaakko Poyry, 2015. World Fibre Outlook.
- CEPI, 2018. http://sustainability.cepi.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/CEPI_Sustainability_report_full_update.pdf
- International Council of Forest and Paper Assoc, 2016. https://twosides.info/includes/files/upload/files/UK/Myths_and_Facts_2016_Sources/12-13/ICFPA-statement-on-paper-recycling.pdf
- European Paper Recycling Council, 2018. http://www.paperforrecycling.eu/publications/
- Dovetail Partners, 2016
- Natural Resources Canada, 2014. http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/pubwarehouse/pdfs/35713.pdf
- American Forest & Paper Association, 2019.
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