The paper industry has established itself as a pioneer in the field of sustainability thanks to its high recycling rate and the optimal use of resources in production and recycling of residual materials. It is a living example of how environmental impact can also be minimized.
Strengthening the circular economy
It all starts with wood as a raw material, where the principle of cascading use is paramount: Wood and its components are processed into as many high-quality products as possible, only the remaining part is used for energy production. The paper produced is used for packaging, print products and even sanitary paper. After use, the products can be recycled several times (studies have shown up to 25 times) in the form of waste paper. The recycling of the wood fibres leads to a saving of resources. The cascading use of wood results in numerous new products made of wood components, which can replace fossil-based materials in the future.
Water is only borrowed
Water is an important resource in paper production. Water is taken - mostly from rivers - and circulated as long as possible. Water that is no longer needed is cleaned and returned to the river. Water is therefore only borrowed from the river. In order to further strengthen and promote recycling management, technical, legal and financial hurdles on the way to an environmentally friendly economy must be removed.
Paper products as an ecological alternative to plastic
Various European and national initiatives are dedicated to reducing the consumption of plastics. Paper-based food packaging contains up to 90% less plastic than comparable plastic packaging, is also recyclable and is made of renewable raw materials. At national level, Austria has decided to ban disposable plastic bags from 2020. Paper carrier bags are an ecological alternative to plastic, as they are made of renewable raw materials and can be recycled. Moreover, they decompose quickly if they end up in the environment. No other material offers such a good mix of economy and ecology - a prime example of a functioning recycling economy.
The paper industry is producing less in the crisis year 2020 and has to accept a significant drop in sales. Nevertheless, it is focusing on the climate targets.
Austropapier dedicated a webinar to the most important renewable resource of the future - wood.