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What’s better, wood-based paper or tree-free paper?

Wood-based paper

Non-tree paper comes from a sustainable source that can regrow quickly, so… it’s better for the environment, right? Well, things are never as straightforward as they seem. Especially when it comes to talking about the sustainability of using one resource – trees – over another – non-wood fibers.

That’s where Two Sides can help. This is a global initiative launched by the graphic communications industry (from forest products companies like us to printers, publishers and even postal operators) to tell print and paper’s environmental story. Their latest factsheet looks at wood-based paper versus non-wood fibers.

WOOD AND NON-WOOD FIBER IMPACTS: ‘BROADLY SIMILAR.’ One key fact listed in the resource says that a life cycle assessment that examined all processes needed to produce pulp from various sources (including recycled fiber) showed that the environmental impacts are broadly similar across fiber types.

The fact is, whether it’s a tree or a stalk of bamboo, the environmental impact of turning that fiber into paper is a matter of how responsibly that resource is managed. And when it comes to wood-based products, today’s third-party forest management certification standards support sustainable growth, harvesting and consumption of trees.

CROPS GROWN TO PRODUCE NON-WOOD FIBER CAN BE WELL MANAGED. But you should get the whole picture before you decide to use paper made from non-wood fibers. Consider these questions:

  • Did deforestation take place in order to grow this crop?
  • Are factors such as water use, chemical inputs and energy considered when growing this fiber?
  • Will more forests in this area be converted to agricultural use?
  • What’s the effect of deforestation on local communities and indigenous peoples?
  • Are there third-party certifications available that monitor good sustainability practices?

 

The forest products industry can answer these questions with pride and confidence. That’s because this information is carefully monitored and publicly reported.

Want to learn more? Click here to download the latest Two Sides factsheet.

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