Paper – part of a sustainable development strategy

In this white paper, international paper supplier Antalis looks at the role of paper and the aspects which companies need to consider when buying, using and disposing of paper. Paper is, and has been, part of society and economic activity for a long time. It is produced from wood fibres and is therefore, directly concerned by the sustainable management of wood as a renewable resource. There are arguments for a digital or paperless world, but paper offers a sensorial experience which no other source offers. Online media offer certain advantages such as speed and interactivity. As a result, the most effective campaigns include both online and printed tools. The result is that paper and print have a future, but there are number of questions which arise around the use of paper. 1)Is paper a leading cause of deforestation? 2)Should the responsible sourcing of paper products be a concern for a company? 3)What guarantees can a user request as proof of responsible paper sourcing? 4)How does recycled paper compare to paper from virgin fibre? The question of sustainability in the daily activities of companies is becoming increasingly important. As a result, forests have become a focal point. There are two main reasons for this: •They provide a broad range of resources and services which are considered indispensable for the ecological, economic and social balance of the planet; •They are endangered by modern practises as well as, pollution and natural disasters. It is for these reasons that there are calls for sustainable forest management, that is management which allows current needs to be met without compromising the future for subsequent generations. Paper sourcing should be part of a comprehensive CSR policy. Paper uses must be assessed and measures taken to implement an efficient, responsible paper management strategy. What is the impact of paper on the environment? Paper, as with any product, has multiple impacts on the environment through its lifecycle. These include: extraction of raw materials, production, transformation, distribution, use and handling of waste. Raw materials The risk of purchasing paper made from illegal deforestation has decreased considerably over the years, but it is still important to ensure that international regulations are still adhered to and respected. End-users can select products with an environmental certification or which are recycled in order to guarantee sustainable forest resource management and prevent deforestation. It is also essential to make the distinction between legal sourcing and sustainable sourcing. There are regulations which govern the sourcing of timber but do not guarantee sustainability. Production There have been major efforts in recent years to limit the impact of the production process. The adoption of co-generation as a source of energy and the use of biomass as a renewable energy source have reduced the impact on the environment. This is just one aspect because water recycling also plays a role. Recycling The recycling of paper has the advantage of reusing existing paper to produce pulp and thereby reducing the demand for wood resources and increasing availability of this resource for wood energy applications. Negative activities include landfill disposal and burning of paper which contribute to environmental degradation. If companies establish a paper management policy, they can be active participants in a circular economy. What is an eco-responsible paper? The definition of eco-responsible paper must incorporate two main elements: the sourcing of raw materials and its manufacturing process. Antalis as an international group has established a definition which aims to be simple, easy to understand, easy to trust and stringent. Definition criterion 1: Wood Fibres The raw material used in paper manufacture comes primarily from wood. In order to be eco-responsible, the fibres must meet the following requirements: •Comes from responsible sources according to the criteria set by the FSC and PEFC standards. These support forest renewal and conservation of wood resources. •They must be 100 percent recycled or at least 50 percent recycled post-consumer waste with the remaining portion fulfilling the requirements for virgin fibre. Definition criterion 2: Manufacturing process For a product to be defined as eco-responsible, the mill which manufactures it must carry one of the following certifications: •ISO 14001 which provides a framework for the development of an environmental management system. •EU Ecolabel which is a multi-criteria, lifecycle-based approach and which is the official environmental label managed by the European Commission. This aims to reduce the emissions in the air and water, reduce the consumption of non-renewable energy sources and minimisation of their environmental impact, reduce damage and health risks linked to the use of hazardous substances, the use of chlorine bleaching for the paper. Three low-impact forms of bleaching are used. Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) uses chlorine dioxide and prevents the formation of dioxins and carcinogens. Process Chlorine Free (PCF) uses a form of totally chlorine free bleaching and contains up to 30 per cent recycled fibre. Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) uses no chlorine compounds thereby eliminating the formation of dioxins and carcinogenic pollutants. How does an organisation integrate paper into a sustainable development policy? The first step is to conduct a complete overview of the existing paper flow and requirements in the company. Thereafter, the process of the 3Rs can be implemented – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Reduce means making use of the right quantity and grammage of paper for each application. More specifically it is printing the right amount and in a more intelligent manner. Reuse means to make optimum use of paper, such as turning it over for printing on the other side whenever possible. Recycle means both using paper from recycled sources and sending used paper for recycling. Paper can be re-used up to seven times. Many international organisations are now specifying recycled and sustainable papers to ensure that all aspects of their paper use are eco-responsible. The benefits of responsible paper management for a company Apart from the evident benefit of preserving natural resources, implementing a responsible paper policy has a positive impact on a number of levels for a company. The first benefit is economic. By choosing the right paper for the right application and in the correct quantity, a company can reduce expenditure on printers, consumables and maintenance. It creates an internal cohesion in all levels of the organisation. It can also create an internal dynamic within the organisation. It can contribute to a better corporate image with internal and external stakeholders. Paper sustainability can make a valuable contribution to a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme. The Antalis Green Star System Establishing a definition of what constitutes eco-responsible is a challenge. It needs to be simple enough to be accessible to the lay-person, but at the same time modular enough to incorporate different levels of eco-responsibility and still be irreproachable. To meet these criteria, Antalis has developed its Green Star System. The Green Star System incorporates the vital information on the origin of the fibre and the manufacturing process and attributes each paper product on a star rating system from one to five based on the environmental performance. At the same time it is easy to understand for the non-technical user. This system can be used by companies to communicate about their environmental efforts. Business can play a positive role in the sustainability of paper. Paper is the only carbon-neutral communication medium throughout its lifecycle. The carbon in paper remains locked away for the full lifecycle of the paper fibres, which can be indefinitely, depending on how the paper is finally disposed of at the end of its useful life. For more information contact Antalis South Africa on 011 688 6100