For the Month of April, where enthusiastic advocates for environmental awareness and contributions might commonly call it as the Month of Sustainability due to its several environmental awareness movements and events being campaigned over the past decades for this month significantly such as Earth Day, Arbor Day and more, and as we hold high significance and strive to contribute towards sustainability efforts, we have gathered the following below.  

With the Month of April being a significant month for sustainability awareness and contributions, we will be discussing about the Myths Vs Facts of Paper and its Processes. The following below consists of the comparison of some of the Myths and Facts of Paper and its Processing aspect.

Myths: Paper is Bad for the Environment
Facts: Paper is One of The Few Truly Sustainable Products

Many individuals might perceive paper to be bad for the environment, however, in reality, paper is formed from wood, where it is a natural and renewable material. When trees grow, they help to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and as a wood product, they continue to store carbon throughout their lifetime.

As such, the paper industry ensures that papers are sourced from sustainable forest sources by incorporating on respected certification schemes for consumers. The two most well-recognised certification schemes are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest CertificationTM (PEFCTM).

Both of these certifications are committed to achieving the same objectives- where these certifications help to provide credible, and independently verified requirements and standards in terms of responsible forest management, they also focuses on conserving the natural habitats of flora and fauna and respecting the forestry workers and local communities’ rights.  

Both the FSC and PEFC have implemented and are operating a sturdy chain of supply chain through custody schemes that are able to track wood and wood fibre, from forests to end users. The FSC and PEFC logos have similar meanings.

When FSC logo is used on forestry products such as paper and printed products like packaging, it provides assurance to individuals that its products are either produced with or contains wood that comes from FSC certified forests or from post-consumer waste. And the PEFC logo provides consumers with assurance that the woodfibre from paper products comes from PEFC certified sustainably managed forests.  

Myths: Only Recycled Paper Should be Used
Facts: Alternatives such as Virgin Fibres from Sustainably Managed Forests are Needed to Maintain the Paper Cycle

Many individuals might presume that recycled paper is the only form of implementation towards sustainability efforts and contributions, however, alternative implementations such as sourcing for other fibre sources are crucial too.

Both recycled fibre and alternative sources such as virgin fibre are fundamental for paper making process and recycled paper can be used more than others when it comes to some grades. For instance, such as Newspapers, and with some packaging relying on and are made from 100% recycled fibre. Although high grade graphic papers have lower ultilisation rate, as compared to other forms of papers, when they are recycled, virgin fibres are included into the paper processing cycle.

This helps to create a sustainable cycle for the paper making process and while recycled fibres are used as effectively as possible, alternative and new fibres are constantly brought into the process to ensure that they are replenished and maintained as recycled fibres would degrade after several uses depending on the paper grade. Thus, paper recycling requires a continuous flow of incorporating new fibres every once in a while, into its process for three purposes: Strength, Quality and Availability.

Myths: Paper is a Wasteful Product
Facts: Paper is One of the Most Recycled Products in the World

Many have also presumed paper to be a wasteful product, however, according to EPA, the overall recycling rate of paper and cardboard was 73.3% as of 2017. Although some paper products could not be recovered for recycling as they were kept for long periods of time such as books or archived records, while others are contaminated or destroyed when used such as tissue or hygienic paper, majority of the paper products could still be recycled.

Some useful information to take note of are that papers could not be recycled indefinitely due to its fibres becoming too short and worn out to be useful in creating new sheets of paper and more importantly, the production and recycling of paper could not be 100% be based on recycled fibre as 100% of paper consumption could not be collected. Thus, although paper is one of the most recycled products in the world, it has its limitations and restraints when it comes to paper fibres get too short and worn out to be useful in creating a new sheet of paper. More importantly, the production cannot be based on 100% recycled fibre, as 100% of consumption cannot be collectedpaper consumption behaviour.

 The following above shows 3 of the most misunderstood factors and aspects in regard to the paper recycling process. And with the month of sustainability approaching to its end, we hope many individuals would gradually start or continue their journey in being conscientious with their behaviour when it comes to sustainability efforts and contributions. Which myth vs fact was interesting and informational for you?