Without virgin fibres, from new trees, the paper cycle can neither begin nor continue

The Role of Forests

Historically, forests were planted, maintained and harvested to provide firewood and building materials, as well as tools and timber for industrial processes.

In Europe, deforestation occurred at an alarming rate to meet agricultural and industrial demands, and by the 19th century forests that once covered 80% of the land area had been reduced to less than 25%. Britain also saw a serious decline in forested land. This trend has now been arrested but, even though the UK has favourable growing conditions, only 12% of its land is forested, compared with 74% in Finland, 28% in France and 32% in Germany.

Forestry and the Paper Industry

Paper is natural, biodegradable and recyclable, comes from a renewable resource and is manufactured in a sustainable manner. Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, and paper, as a wood product, continues to store carbon throughout its lifetime. A well managed growing forest, used and re-planted, absorbs more carbon dioxide than a mature forest consisting of older trees.

  • Paper is made by mixing a variety of woodpulps from both coniferous and deciduous trees to obtain the characteristics required in the end product.
  • UK papermakers support the use of forest certification as a means of providing independent assurance of responsible sourcing of woodpulp.
  • Only 12% of the UK is forested compared with European average of 45%.
  • The Paper Industry is a relatively small user of wood; only around 11% of the wood extracted from the world’s forests is used in paper and pulp production.
  • The UK has two mills making wood into pulp. They use 100% UK grown trees. One million tonnes of woodpulp is used in the production of UK paper and board. 0.78 million tonnes of the woodpulp used is imported from 24 countries.
  • 0.9 million tonnes of the woodpulp used are imported from 26 countries.
  • Woodpulp fibres can be recycled a number of times, but they eventually lose their papermaking qualities.
  • Fresh woodpulp fibres need to be constantly introduced into the papermaking chain.
  • Without virgin fibres, from new trees, the paper cycle can neither begin nor continue.
  • With responsible forest management, European forests have grown by over 30% since 1950.
  • More trees will need to be planted if the needs of papermakers and EU targets for renewable energy are to be met.

Meet Russell the Spruce


Further Reading

CPI Fact Sheets


Paper & the Forest

CPI Fact Sheets


Forestry Sustainability,Timber Regulation and Industry Certification Schemes

CPI Myths and Facts about the paper industry

Paper Myths & Facts

Environmental issues related to paper are a source of numerous misconceptions. Innovation has been at the heart of papermaking for nearly two thousand years and it would be hard to imagine what life would be like without paper.

Information, Paper Recycling, Paper Industry


Recycling is an intrinsic part of the paper loop. Around 70% of UK made paper is made from recycled fibre and indeed paper is by far the biggest source of recyclate separated from domestic waste streams.

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