If you don’t live and breathe pulp and paper like we do at APP, you may not know about the intricacies of the sustainable paper industry. The infographic pasted below this post provides a quick at-a-glance explanation of the sustainable paper industry, from the planting cycle through forestry production and ending in the final product packaging you see and use every day.
While recycled content in paper products including packaging and tissue is important, it shouldn’t be the only indicator of sustainability. Fiber age – or the age of the tree at the time it was harvested – is equally if not more important. Rapidly renewable fiber tells us the supply source comes from a tree farm or plantation rather than natural growth forest. Equatorial plantation trees are characterized by young fiber – which is able to absorb carbon more quickly than older trees – representing an added benefit for the environment.
The modern sustainable paper plantation relies on fast-growing trees that are treated as crops just like corn or wheat, which are grown in a short amount of time and harvested for a specific purpose. For example, APP relies on tree farms in Southeast Asia where trees can be harvested, re-planted, re-grown and harvested again in just six years. This timeframe is in stark contrast to the process of harvesting old-growth trees in North America – a process that takes 70 to 80 years. Nowhere in the world do trees grow faster than in Indonesia and other equatorial countries.
There are so many misconceptions about what it takes to be environmentally conscious. The important thing to remember is that trees grow back. Like other crops, tree farms if managed sustainability can help meet the growing global demand for paperboard and related products, while also ensuring the protection of natural forests and the precious ecosystems within them.