The economic interests of printers combined with rising demands for eco-friendly practices, has made print and paper production one of the most sustainable models worldwide.

Digital distribution platforms and multi-channel marketing have created pressure in print-related industries, forcing print and paper makers to innovate.

Today that pressure has transformed an industry with low-carbon automated technologies at print plants, 100% renewable planted forests, and even ISO certifications tracking the origins of every piece of paper.

As a result, print and paper production is now considered one of the most ecologically responsible industry sectors; a move expected by consumers and brands wanting to reach them.

There aren’t many industries around that can aspire to becoming genuinely sustainable. The paper industry, however, is one of them. It is inherently sustainable. Jonathan Porritt, Chairman UK Sustainability Development Commission & Founder Forum for the Future

Australian paper production supports sustainable forest management

Paper of traceable origin has become an industry expectation.

In Australia and Northern Europe, where almost all old growth forests are protected, paper comes from managed regrowth forests or planted forests where the cycle of planting, growing and harvesting is carefully controlled.

Australia has more than two million hectares of planted forests working for paper production*.

Wood is sustainable and can be harvested for use and regrown, whilst oil, iron ore, coal, bauxite and gas, for example, are all non-replaceable. Once they are gone, they’re gone!Joe Kowalewski, National Director, Printing Industries Association of Australia. (PIAA)

The PIAA has been on the front lines of public education to ensure customers understood the wider industry’s role in environmental sustainability.

A 2013 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation report into the underlying causes of deforestation concluded “90 percent of deforestation is caused by unsustainable agricultural practices.”

* Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2010,

Paper: the most recycled product in the world

Australians are conscientious recyclers, with 95 percent of households recycling or reusing their paper products, including catalogues*.

In 2015 Australia’s only premium wastepaper recycling and de-inking plant opened in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, with Australian Paper announcing that the $90 million facility started producing recycled copy paper and will soon extend into envelope and printing papers.

“This plant will take up to 80,000 tonnes of wastepaper out of Australia’s landfill each year,” said Peter Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Australian Paper.

“Removing 80,000 tonnes of wastepaper from Australia’s landfill saves up to 200,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year, which is equal to taking more than 70,000 cars off Australia’s roads,” Williams said.

Paper and its related products are effective carbon sinks, with each tonne of wood produced in a managed forest removes 1.47 tonnes of CO2 from the air and replaces it with 1.07 tonnes of oxygen.**

Printers back ISO certifications for maximum environmental responsibility

Print leaders such as PMP Limited are committed to ensuring excellence in sustainability and minimising the impact on the environment.

The group boasts the highest possible level of environmental accreditation attainable under the global ISO standard 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems.

PMP was the first printer in Australia to commit to only purchasing paper that carries PEFC or FSC accreditation. This ensures all paper used is from sustainable forestry operations. The group also holds current certification with PEFC Chain of Custody (Certificate Number SGS PEFC0736) and FSC Chain of Custody (Certificate Number SGSCOC005617).

Fun facts

    1. Planted forests in Australia cover about two million hectares, which is just more than one percent of Australia’s total forest estate and a relatively small area compared to other crops like wheat and barley. –Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. (2013). Australia’s Forest.
    2. Reading a newspaper can consume 20 percent less carbon than viewing news online. –The Swedish Royal Institute for Technology, 2012.
    3. At current growth rates data centres and telecommunication networks will consume about 1,963 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2020. –Make IT Green, Greenpeace International, 2010.
    4. In a multimedia world, responsibly sourced paper and print may be the most sustainable way to communicate. Alternative media has its own impact too: One email with a 400k attachment sent to 20 people, is equivalent to burning 100w light bulb for 20 minutes. –BBC Costing The Earth, Global Warming, 2009.
    5. 100 Google searches is equivalent to burning a 60w light bulb for 28 minutes. –Google Associated Press, 2011.
    6. One hour per day on a 32-inch LCD comes to 35kg CO2 per year – equivalent to a 6.3km drive in an average powered car. –Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything, 2011 Australian Paper Industry Association, Paper Part of Everyday, 2010.
    7.  An online search emits 0.7g of CO2 every search made, whereas a business card emits less than 0.12g of CO2 over the card’s entire lifetime. –Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything, 2011 Australian Paper Industry Association, Paper Part of Everyday, 2010

*Australian Bureau of Statistics
**Society of American Foresters: Managed Forests in Climate Change Policy, 2010 Arnfalk, 2010

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Originally written by Garth Montgomery, Content Specialist for PMP Limited