From the NGOs a vision for a new clean paper industry.
Paper consumption in Europe alone has increased six-fold since 1950. Surprisingly, paper use has increased most in the computer age although technological advancements such as electronic communication should offer easy alternatives. Some projections by industry show per capita paper consumption growing significantly in the next 10 years.
Paper has been an integral part of the cultural development in Europe. However, most people are unaware of the dramatic growth of paper consumption in recent decades and the uneven access to paper around the world.
Today 10% of the world's population in Western Europe and North America consume over half of the world's paper and more than six times the world average' clearly much more than their share. The world's paper hunger has created enormous pressures on the environment particularly in developing countries such as Latin America and Asia where production is increasing.
The response: The European NGO Paper Vision
This is the background for the Paper Vision launched in January 2006 by a coalition of about 50 NGOs from Europe and beyond. To make the vision a reality, many sectors of society must act to reduce waste of paper, to increase the use of recycled fibres and to stop forest destruction, human rights violations, and pollution. "We signed the common vision for transforming the paper industry by European environmental groups - said Sergio Baffoni, of the Italian environmental organization Terra! - It is an useful tool for the paper industry to have a clear and coherent vision on what the environmental movement is aiming to reach.
The NGOs have called on the paper industry, producers, buyers, governments and consumers to make choices and to set standards for a more responsible future. The European paper industry has a special responsibility due to its global reach through its pulp purchases and investments.
Reversing the trend: reduce and modify paper consumption
Reducing wasteful paper use, reusing and recycling more paper, redesigning products and processes to require less paper, and using electronic communication more effectively can bring substantial environmental benefits and save money.
Increasing responsibility: from the forest to the mills
Although the hunger for virgin fibres can be reduced significantly, paper will remain an important material for all societies. Where virgin fibre continues to be used, the Paper Vision calls for a halt to irresponsible forestry practices. Fibre for paper should come only from forests managed with respect for the environment and the rights of local communities.
Finally, the vision highlights the need to minimise pollution. For example production should eliminate the use of chlorine compounds for bleaching.