|The Myth: Paper has a high carbon footprint.|
The Fact: It's not as high as you think!
Carbon footprint is defined as the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases that a person, organization, event or product causes to be released to the atmosphere, either directly or indirectly, during its life. For paper products, this life includes everything from harvesting trees through the manufacturing process to use and disposal or recycling.
A look across this entire life cycle shows that paper's carbon footprint can be divided into three basic elements: greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration and avoided emissions. Each of these elements is influenced by important characteristics that make paper's carbon footprint smaller than might be expected: it's made from a renewable resource that stores carbon, it's manufactured using mostly renewable energy and it's recyclable.
- Because forest products can require little or no fossil fuels for production and store carbon throughout their useful life, they can have inherent climate change advantages over all other materials with which they compete, provided they are produced in a sustainable manner. Indeed, under sustainable practices, the forest products industry is one of the least carbon-intensive manufacturing sectors.
– World Resources Institute
- Almost all of the greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. forest products industry manufacturing facilities are the result of fossil fuel combustion. The industry also burns large quantities of biomass fuels but the CO2 released from biomass combustion is not included in greenhouse gas totals because it contains biogenic carbon [produced from living or recently living sources] that is part of a natural cycle. It is for this reason that biomass-derived CO2 is called "carbon neutral.
– National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI)
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