Paper, paper, paper! If you start to look around, you will see that we use paper and pulp products on a daily basis. We use paper for several things such as paper towels, napkins, boxes, bags, mail, take-out food, labels, magazines, fabrics, and hygiene products. The paper industry is a huge business and it generates over $200 billion every year. That’s a lot of paper and pulp products that the world uses, but at what cost to our environment?
Paper and pulp is made from wood, a natural and renewable resource. We hear that the amount of trees and forestry that is used for paper products isn’t a lot, but we must also take into consideration how much water and energy is used to produce these products. What effects does this have on our environment? Are paper and pulp truly as green and sustainable as we hope? The answer to those questions all depends on who you ask.
The pulp and paper business has continuously changed their industry to help our environment. In their efforts, recycled paper is being used a lot more. According to Aaron Wattle, a technician at Georgia-Pacific Corporation, on average, 35% of the paper used to create a box now comes from recycled paper. Wattle has seen the industry go through drastic changes in the last 28 years of working there. He says, Georgia-Pacific educates its employees and spends a great deal of time and money on sustainability. They believe in their Principles of Progress where these principles are used as a guide for behavior and improving lives. There is a certification process that Georgia-Pacific uses, along with many other paper and pulp companies. Sustainable Forestry Initiative is just one example of a company that uses the certification process. They confirm that the raw materials come from legal and responsible loggers that protect water quality and biodiversity. Some of the major pulp and paper industries such as International Paper, Kimberly-Clark SCA, and Georgia-Pacific, discuss how important sustainability is and how they are trying to improve their manufacturing processes while trying to find new ways to help the environment.
One thing we know for sure is that the use of paper and pulp has changed and will continue to change. I would like to throw this out there to all the paper industries: How about paper toothpaste tubes?