An international coalition of more than 100 environmental groups, some national and some regional or local, last week published a report The State of the Paper Industry 2011: Steps Toward an Environmental Vision. The report, which focuses mostly on the North American industry, suggests that, while progress is being made, the pulp and paper industry still has a significant distance to go to achieve a transformation to environmental responsibility.
The report uses a set of indicators to measure environmental progress in the industry. Even though progress in reducing use of paper is being made, the average North American still uses five times as much paper as the world average. Recycling rates are increasing, yet paper is still one of the largest single components of landfills in the US, comprising over 16% of landfill deposits equaling 26 million tons in 2009, down from 42 million tons in 2005. Good progress is being made in Forest Stewardship Council certification of sustainably managed forests in North America. However, the report states that there has been no improvement in total energy used per ton of product manufactured, with the paper industry being the third largest industrial consumer of energy in the United States. The report also claims that there has been virtually no reduction in water pollution from the pulp and paper industry between 2000 and 2008.
The report is available from http://www.environmentalpaper.org/state-of-the-paper-industry-2011.php