Selling the Paper Story – A Strategic Initiative for the Paper Industry
Type “paper versus plastic” into Google and you’ll find 14,000,000 hits, many of which seem to tell you that plastic is “superior” to paper in terms of environmental performance. Immediately one asks: “How can it be? The plastics industry is an industry that relies on non-renewable resources!”
In most of the reported studies, little is detailed regarding the boundaries chosen or exactly what data pertaining to paper have been included for comparison. “Paper” is compared in generic terms without reference to the grade, function or even the process producing that paper. Environmental impact, and notably carbon impact, depends on the specific process producing the paper. Given these considerations, the question must be asked whether the comparisons being drawn with plastic are meaningful? Yet, despite these uncertainties, the comparisons persist and continue to influence opinion.
A significant amount of information appears to exist with a pro-plastic slant with little on the positives of paper. In a time of declining markets, it is perhaps a critical time for the paper industry, particularly in South Africa, to start telling “The Paper Story”. This paper examines the theoretical basis for the carbon side of “The Paper Story” and proposes the way in which the story might be told.