Paper is renewable. Paper is recyclable. Paper is remarkable!
In South Africa, paper is made from farmed trees and recycled paper, as well as a small amount of bagasse (waste from sugar cane processing). We do not use indigenous trees to make pulp or paper products – only sustainably farmed eucalyptus and pine trees are used.
Papermaking does not cause deforestation. Deforestation is the clearing of trees without replanting. Sustainable forestry is different: trees are grown in rotation with only a small percentage (6%) of the total area harvested each year. Areas that have been harvested are then replanted, making the process sustainable with thousands of hectares of trees of different ages growing all the time.
By always replanting areas that have been harvested, farmed wood, and everything that is made from it, a renewable resource
What is paper used for?
Paper goes beyond common A4 copy paper. It includes:
- Packaging – from boxes that protect computer equipment during shipment to the box of teabags; from the label on the coffee jar to the bag of sugar and the milk carton.
- Hygiene essentials such as toilet paper, tissue and hygiene products.
- Printing and writing materials – from our daily or weekly dose of news, our favourite glossy magazine to the simple pleasure of escaping into a book.
- Education – Let’s not forget the important role that paper plays in education, from learning to write our name to our final matric exams.
By choosing paper for packaging or communication, we choose to ‘save trees’ – this is because we are encouraging the planting of more trees, while also sustaining jobs for more than 158,000 people employed by the forest products industry in South Africa.
Farmed trees, as well as indigenous forests, absorb millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide while growing, and give us oxygen in return through the process of photosynthesis. Trees use the carbon to grow, and this carbon stays locked up in the wood – even when the wood is made into paper, and even when the paper is recycled!
Farmed trees are not irrigated but get their water from rainfall and ground water.
Even though you can make paper from recycled fibre, you need a regular “dose” of virgin fibre. This is because paper fibres can only be recycled up to seven times. Thereafter the fibre loses its strength.
“We should be growing more trees and using more wood. If [those] landowners had no market for wood, they would clear the forest away and grow something else they could make money from instead. When you go into a lumber (wood) yard, you are given the impression that by buying wood you are causing the forest to be lost, when in fact what you are doing is sending a signal into the market to plant more trees.” Greenpeace co-founder Dr Patrick Moore