Not long ago, ‘going paperless’ was a term bandied about with great ease and relish by conservationists. Using less or no paper was supposed to be ‘better for the environment or important in saving trees.’ It has proven to be both unattainable and unsustainable as a goal. A more logical and attainable target has been embraced by the North American Paper and Pulp industry which continues to improve its green efforts. So, what are these green strides being made by the paper and pulp industry?
Industry Key Players Who Are Going Green
Before we look at some of the changes taking place we should find out who is leading the effort. Two key players in the industry are the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) which represents the wide spectrum of paper and wood products manufacturers and Two Sides North America. Two Sides North America is a global initiative by companies from the graphic communications industry including forestry, pulp, paper, ink and chemicals, pre-press, press, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and postal. Both of these associations have been working hard for a number of years towards increased efficiency and sustainability. And their efforts are showing results. In 2016, an amazing 67.2 percent of paper used in the U.S. was recovered for recycling. This is rapidly approaching the AF&PA goal of 70 percent. It helps that paper is the single most recycled item in North America. Recycling rates overall in the U.S. have increased about 20 percent since 2001, which reflects the most recent record amount of recovered paper.
But recycling products is only one arm of the many-pronged approach employed by AF&PA. Energy use has dropped. AF&PA member pulp and paper mills are now producing carbon-neutral biomass energy that provides roughly two-thirds of their energy needs. Using wood and plant waste as fuel is carbon neutral since it is being replaced as it is used. Because of this, purchased energy use has dropped by 8.1 percent since the baseline was established in 2005. Energy efficiency has greatly improved. This also led to a drop in greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions of greenhouse gases have been lowered by 16 percent since 2005, closing in on the goal of 20 percent by 2020.
Another area that’s shown improvement is forest certification, which is intended to ensure sustainable forest growth and harvesting. Two Sides North America has shown unequivocally the link between responsible forest land management and the resulting economic and environmental benefits. We grow twice as much wood as we harvest each year and forest volume has increased by almost 50 percent in the last 60 years. The amount of fiber purchased from certified forestlands increased from 23 percent in 2005 to about 2 percent. Using certified fiber is an important tool in supporting the industry. Ninety percent of the earth’s forests are still uncertified. Fiber sourcing certification supports the family forest owners who are sustainably managing their forest land. AF&PA members’ use of certified fiber sourcing programs increased to 98 percent in 2014.
Making Green Strides
Green strides are being made in many areas and their impact is showing across the industry. Another area that’s shown improvement is water usage. Member mills have lowered water use by 6.5 percent since 2005. Improved technology and ongoing innovations now allow water to be reused and recycled up to 10 times through the pulp and paper mill process.
The U.S. isn’t the only country where the greener strides are having an impact. The Forests Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is also reporting some amazingly green figures for the Canadian forest industry. A large cut in the use of fossil fuel between 2000 and 2013 has led to a reduction of 44 percent in direct emissions and lowered total energy use by 29 percent. Increasing their use of waste wood from 49 to 60 percent played a part in the lower greenhouse gas emissions as well. The Canadian forest products industry reported a drop in water use of 3 percent since 2010. Other amazing numbers include a drop of 52 percent in air pollutants and 70 percent in water pollutants since 2005. These stunning figures make more sense of the fact that Canada now has one of the highest waste paper and packaging recovery rates in the world, a truly astounding 73 percent.
The greener strides are being seen and felt throughout the industry. Paper and other forest products play a role in every aspect of our daily lives but also have a much greater impact nationally. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 4 percent of the U.S. manufacturing GDP and employs approximately 900,000 people. A greener industry means greener products and a greener world as well.
Letter Jacket Envelopes is an important part of this ever greening and vital industry. The next time you are in need of an envelope, regardless what kind it might be, make sure to take advantage of Letter Jacket’s high-quality envelopes, which are available in a multitude of sizes, shapes, and colors.