65% of the energy demand at U.S. pulp, paper and paper-based packaging mills is met using renewable, carbon-neutral biomass energy.[1]

Paper power

Paper is fundamental to a circular economy because it is made with wood fibers which are renewable, recyclable and sustainable. The U.S. forest products industry is the nation’s leading producer and user of renewable, carbon-neutral biomass energy.  This bioenergy is generated by burning manufacturing residuals from trees grown to produce paper and wood products. [2]

U.S. pulp and paper mills self-generate the majority of electricity needed to run their operations, and 98.9% of on-site electricity production is through efficient combined heat and power (CHP) units. The industry’s purchased energy per ton of production was reduced 13.3% between 2005 and 2018. [3]

Investment in new technologies is making paper and forest industry operations in Canada more efficient. By generating bioenergy from waste products and increasing energy efficiency, Canada’s forest products industry cut its total energy use by 31% between 2005 and 2015. [4]

The U.S. paper industry reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 23.2% between 2005 and 2018.

American Forest and Paper Association, 2020

The Canadian paper and forest products industry reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 49% between 2005 and 2015.

Natural Resources Canada, 2018

From 1990 to 2015, U.S. forests offset approximately 11% of the nation’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

U.S. EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gases and Sinks, 2019

Paper helps tackle climate change

Choosing paper and paper-based packaging is one way to help tackle climate change. Forests and forest products play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. The greatest incentive for continued investment in and retention of this renewable resource is a stable market for paper and other wood products.

Trees absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow and a proportion of it is locked-up in the wood fiber; in fact, roughly half of the dry weight of wood is carbon. In addition, while a healthy forest will contain about 30% of the sequestered carbon in its biomass, another 70% will be held in the soil. [5]

With responsible forest management where trees are grown, harvested and regrown, long-term carbon stocks are maintained. The forest acts as a ‘carbon sink,’ absorbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. [6]

Sustainable forest management and the responsible use of forest products present a very effective and cost competitive way to harness this natural carbon sink. Sustainably managed forests contribute to the mitigation of CO2 emissions, absorb and store carbon, reduce forest damage and help prevent deforestation. Above all, sustainable forest management makes an essential contribution to improving livelihoods and human well-being, conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services. [7]

  1. American Forest and Paper Association(AF&PA), 2020
  2. Ibid AF&PA, 2020
  3. Ibid AF&PA, 2020
  4. Natural Resources Canada, 2019
  5. UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2003
  6. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007
  7. Ibid IPCC, 2007
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