MYTH Making Paper Destroys Forests

No – In fact the opposite is true.

For every tree harvested, several more are planted, or naturally regenerated, in its place. Four million trees are planted daily in the U.S. – approximately 1.5 billion per year. There are nearly 750 million acres of forests in the U.S. – about the same as 100 years ago. Annual net growth of U.S. forests is 36% higher than the volume of annual tree removals.

MYTH Paper is Bad for the Environment!

No – Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products.

“Forestry is the most sustainable of all the primary industries that provide us with energy and materials…To address climate change, we must use more wood, not less. Using wood sends a signal to the marketplace to grow more trees…”

Dr. Patrick Moore, Co-founder of Greenpeace Chair/Chief Scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd “An Inconvenient Fact”, The Vancouver Sun August 29, 2007

Forest Products are a Good Choice. Compared to other materials, wood and paper-based good, produced in a sustainable manner, can be a wise choice because:

  • They come from a renewable resource
  • They capture carbon
  • They store carbon
  • They are recyclable

MYTH Making Paper Consumes a lot of Energy and Fossil Fuels!

No – Not really.

From 1990, when the industry created over 3,500,00 tons of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, to 2007, when the industry GHG output was down to slightly over 2,400,000 tons (far below the Kyoto Commitment due in 2012).

MYTH Paper has a High Carbon Footprint!

No – It’s Not as High as You Think.

Carbon Footprint – a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) released into the atmosphere hat have arisen through the manufacture and distribution of a product or service.

The Pulp and Paper Industry largely utilizes renewable energy sources that are considered carbon neutral to generate steam. Sustainably managed forests are virtually carbon neutral. Papers’ primary raw materials are renewable. The Paper and forest products industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of our forests by planting 1.7 million trees every single day, more than three times what is harvested. The U.S. Department of Energy has stated that the carbon sequestered on forested lands in 2006 was greater than the carbon released from harvesting wood over the same period.

By 2020 the U.S. based servers and data servers are projected to be the single largest users of electricity. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006


20% less CO2 is used per year by a person reading a daily printed newspaper versus a person reading web-based news for 30 minutes a day.

The same amount of CO2 is used per year by all mail delivered to an average household in a year versus a coffee maker being on for one hour per day for one year.

Source: Swedish Royal Institute for Technology; Paper & the Environment, ATS Consulting 2007 Life Cycle Inventory of the Mail; Greening the Mail Taskforce, 2008

MYTH Recycled Paper is Always Better for the Environment than Virgin Paper!

No – Not necessarily.

  • Why can’t all papers be made from recycled fiber?
    • Only 53% of all paper made is immediately available for recycling.
    • Making paper from 100% recycled fiber, while technically feasible on the very short term, is not sustainable over the long term.
    • The input of fresh, virgin fiber into the paper stream is essential.
    • Paper can only be recycled 7 times before the fibers break down.

MYTH Paper Contributes Significantly to Landfill!

No – Paper is the most recycled product, compared to metal, glass and plastic, and is also biodegradable..

In 2008, 57% of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling – nearly 340 pounds for each man, woman and child in America. Comparatively, the recovery rate for metal is 36%, glass is 22%, electronic products is 18% and plastic is only 7%.

  • Summary
    • Making paper does not destroy forests – if the forests are managed sustainably.
    • Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products. Remember, trees are a renewable resource.
    • It takes energy to manufacture paper, however with renewable energy technologies, manufactures are relying less and less on the grid.
    • Paper’s environmental footprint is not as great as you think.
    • Recycled paper is not always better for the environment than paper made from virgin, sustainably managed fiber.
    • Paper is the most frequently and easily recycled product compared to glass, plastic, or metal – and certainly when compared to electronics.

Source: Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P., “Myths Busted: The truth about paper and its environmental impacts” Webinar August 26, 2009

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