Forests are under pressure from human activity that results in forest loss and degradation. The pulp and paper industry can be one of these pressures, but it can also be what keeps them standing.
Trees from all over the world – Brazil, the United States, Russia and Sweden, to name a few key sources – feed global demand for paper-based materials. Most of us don’t buy newspapers anymore, however we’re more likely to order boxed packages from the internet. Recycled fibre is gaining in popularity, but virgin fibre from trees remains the main source for a variety of reasons.
Intense management of these sources often creates unsustainable pressure. For example, as demand grows, we have seen tropical forests cleared for monoculture plantations and Northern landscapes become increasingly fragmented. On the other hand, we have seen forest lands increase in the United States due to a thriving forestry sector. As long as these forests are managed in a way that preserves their ecological capacity, this can be good news for wildlife and the climate.
Recycled content is an important component of the pulp and paper industry and is one way to meet growing demand without increasing pressures on forests. Re-used fibre, however, faces its own challenges in the way used paper is collected. The informal nature of the collection process leads to extremely difficult conditions for those involved, including low pay, no insurance safety net and an often dangerous work environment.
Earthworm Foundation is guiding a coalition of leading industry players to promote the value of forests as a source of economic, social and ecological wealth.
With members such as Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Nestlé, Mars and 3M, we work to expand the definition of quality pulp and paper products. Through responsible sourcing policies, we see a path that encourages not just optimal economic and logistical quality but also social and environmental quality of the fibre produced and utilised. We help member businesses set appropriate and measurable objectives. We then map their supply chains to identify priority areas of harvest and suppliers for projects and engagement respectively. In partnership with our members, we work to cultivate demand for responsible products, while tackling core problems such as forest loss and degradation.
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