The Surprising Environmental Benefits of Paper & Paper-Based Packaging

Recycling paper and paper based products not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but it’s also one of the only renewable resources.



It’s no surprise that with most paper products and paper packaging in Canada being made from recycled paper, that the fiber in the paper itself once came from a tree.  The paper and pulp mills that produce these raw materials to make paper and packaging use recycled products so that it can then be turned into large rolls made of paper which is then sent out and converted into the necessary products.  After this, and being used by a consumer who will then recycle the item, the paper product will then make its way back to the mill to start the entire process over again.  One could argue that it wouldn’t be a fair statement for someone to say that paper manufacturing is a major contributing cause of gas emissions. Or that it’s a wasteful product, when in fact with trees being a renewable source of energy, it’s used to generate paper and paper products, therefore every tree that has been harvested (which is less than 1%) is then replaced with seedlings that happen either directly or naturally and accounts for over 800 seedlings/minute



Carbon Neutrality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Paper Manufacturing 

Can a paper mill be carbon neutral?  Yes it can and essentially, nothing is wasted! The Canadian mills who produce paper and paper products are using renewable energy, also known as biomass.  Any of the products that cannot be used to make paper that is of high quality is then converted into energy that will power the mill’s boilers.  This significantly reduces the environmental footprint by these mills just from making it carbon neutral.  Any carbon that sits on the inside was once removed from the atmosphere so when it’s returned to the outside, it has zero net effect on the environment.  

The Canadian forestry sector has been able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 70% since the early 90’s.  For the paper and paper product sectors, based off of research and testing, this industry has been able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 38% between the years of 2006 and 2016.  

Paper Recycling and its Advantages  

Not only does paper recycling reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it can also extend the supply of wood fibers.  Canada sits as one of the top paper recycling countries in the world proving just how sustainable it is as a renewable and recyclable product option.  The paper packaging industry is known as a circular economy where it starts off as a renewable resource, recycles the product, reduces waste and then reestablishes into a new product that can be used over and over up to 5-7 times.  Even though this is something that Canada’s paper industry should boost about, these fibers from being recycled over and over do become weak and thin over time.  This is where new and fresh fiber is needed.  Fresh fiber comes from purpose-grown trees that have been harvested and then regrown again in forests that are sustainably managed so that the circular lifestyle of paper can begin again. 

The Canadian Paper and Forest Products Industry's Environmental Record  

For the past 15 years, Canada has invested in new and improved technologies that are making operations in the forest industry more efficient, allowing the bioenergy from waste products to naturally increase energy efficiency.  Between 2005 and 2015, Canada was able to reduce its energy use by 31% and greenhouse gas emissions by 49% during those years.  Canada’s forest industry has made a vow to continue removing 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year by the year 2030.  

In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon, the Paper and Pulp industry must also follow effluent regulations in Canada.  This means that specific regulations have been developed by the Fisheries Act to oversee and manage any threat to fish, their habitat and to human health by fish consumption.  This act limits the amount of any harmful effluents that the paper and pulp mills dispose of in fish waters that can be the slightest bit lethal to fish.  Since 2014 effluent samples have been meeting the regulated requirements 99.9% of the time.

We can say with confidence that paper and paper packaging is one of the very few products in Canada that has started out as a sustainable product.  Being made from a natural resource, we know that paper is not only renewable, but also one item that is recycled more than any other material.  This sustainability allows the paper and packaging industry to continue with the circular life cycle many times over all while working towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions and carbon.  Direct Response Media Group will continue to do it’s part in sustainability and to learn more on how we plan to continue on this path, click here.


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