The continuous input of wood fiber from sustainably managed forests is essential to the paper production cycle.
Every time paper is recycled, the fibers get shorter and weaker. After being recycled 5 to 7 times, the fibers become too short and weak to bond into new paper.
Fresh fiber is constantly needed to compensate for the retirement of degraded fiber, archival storage of paper (books, records, etc.), and loss of fiber through normal use and disposal of certain non-recyclable paper products, such as personal hygiene and tissue products.
Mills producing fresh fiber use different processes than mills using recycled fiber. As a result, the releases to the environment differ. Recycled fiber production can result in higher or lower releases to the environment than fresh fiber production depending on the type of release, the product being manufactured and the fuel being used.