With the recovery rate of used paper for recycling approaching 70 percent in the United States and Europe, and approaching 80 percent in Japan, to keep up with our demand for paper we need to continue using fresh fiber as well as recycled, according to the premise set forward in a new report by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
Detailing the reasons why fresh fiber combined with recycled is important for a single integrated wood fiber system, the report examines the “complementarity” of using both and discusses the functions of different types of fibers and the issues related to both recycling old fiber and sourcing fresh fiber. In 2012, 400 million tons of paper and paperboard were produced and consumed globally, which is double that in 1985, notes the report. As the population continues to expand and standards of living increase, this number is expected to climb by another 40 percent by 2028. While many would advocate for cutting down on paper use in the first place, in the face of global demand the most sustainable fiber may have to be the next best thing. But therein lies the rub: finding adequate quantities of said fiber will be the challenge of the global pulp and paper industry.