Making paper uses a lot of energy and has a high carbon footprint


Much of the energy used is renewable and the carbon footprint is surprisingly low


The Fact:   Much of the energy used is renewable and the carbon footprint is surprisingly low

More than 65% of the total energy used by North American pulp and paper facilities comes from renewable forest biomass. A look across the entire life cycle shows that paper’s carbon footprint can be divided into three basic elements: greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration and avoided emissions. Each of these elements is influenced by important characteristics that make paper’s carbon footprint smaller than might be expected: it’s made from a renewable resource that stores carbon, is recyclable and is manufactured using mostly renewable energy including biomass, biogas and hydroelectricity.

  • Wood stores carbon indefinitely, even as a finished product, helping to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions over the long term. Growing trees also releases oxygen into the atmosphere, thereby supporting life on our planet. 

             – American Forest & Paper Association, 2014

  • Since 1990, U.S. pulp and paper mill purchased energy (from fossil fuels) use per ton of production has been reduced by 25.4%, and 14.6% since 2000.

– American Forest & Paper Association, 2014

  • In Canada, 98% of wood residue is now being used for either energy generation or composting. More than 66% of mills’ wastewater sediment is being used for either energy generation, composting or land application.

             – Forest Products Association of Canada, 2014

  • Greenhouse gas emissions by the Canadian pulp and paper sector have dropped 79% since 1990 by decreasing its reliance on fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing energy use. 

             – Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, 2012

  • With 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the value chain of pulp, paper and print is one of the lowest industrial emitters.

             – ECOFYS, 2013

Please refer to our Two Sides Fact Sheets for more information