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Is Paper a Sustainable Product? Here’s the Real Scoop.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 | Comments (0)

Around the world, people use tonnes of paper every day. From food packaging, magazines, books, office paper, printing paper, and toilet paper, paper is still very much a fixture in our lives, even in today’s digital age. Of course, the prevalent use of paper products also raises the issue of waste and recycling, which is why some people claim that depending too much on paper is bad for the environment.

But the truth might surprise you.

While bad publicity and misleading information about deforestation and crowded landfills may have given paper products a bad rap, a bit of research will reveal that paper is actually one of the few truly sustainable materials out there. In this post, we look at the real facts behind paper and why the right kind of paper is great for the environment.

On Paper and Deforestation

The notion that the pulp and paper industry is responsible for clearing wide swaths of forest comes from the old practice of cutting down trees to produce paper. But thanks to timely legislation and proactive regulation, this is no longer the case today.

In fact, research by TwoSides.org.au reveals that as much as 82 percent of all wood, a significant portion of which goes to the production of paper, comes from planted forests. What’s more, around 2 million hectares of industrial planted forests lies in private property; the production and use of paper help prevent these lands from being used for agriculture and infrastructure development, which arguably have a bigger role in deforestation.

Paper Out, Trees In

But what exactly is an industrial planted forest?

Basically, it’s a managed forest where a portion is used produce wood-based products and replaced seedlings. This ensures a stable supply of wood by alternating between mature trees and giving young trees time to grow. And because fast-growing trees are used, the forest will never “run out” of trees. 

In fact, for every tree harvested in a well-managed forest, more are planted in their place.

What About the Production Process?

Any production process requires energy, and the same is true for the pulp and paper industry. But over the last few decades, major strides have been made to optimize the paper production process. Many manufacturers now have efficient systems in place to replace conventional fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, such as biomass and spent cooking oil.

Don’t forget, Paper is Recyclable

Perhaps the biggest advantage paper has over other types of materials is the fact that it’s 100 percent recyclable. In contrast, plastics are much harder to process for recycling and stick around for thousands of years when left alone in landfills. Not only that, paper is also biodegradable thanks to its wood pulp composition.

At Smartbag, we carry a wide range of paper packaging solutions. To learn more about our Brown Kraft Paper Bags and our White Kraft Paper bags, get in touch with the Smartbag team on our Contact Page

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