Worldwatch Paper #149: Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape

December 1999
Janet N. Abramovitz and Ashley T. Mattoon
ISBN: 1-878071-51-3
71 pages

Global consumption of wood fiber for papermaking can be cut by more than 50 percent, reports a new study by the Worldwatch Institute. This reduction can be achieved through a combination of trimming paper consumption in industrial countries, improving papermaking efficiency, and expanding the use of recycled and nonwood materials, according to Janet Abramovitz and Ashley Mattoon, co-authors of Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape.

"We have the tools at hand to dramatically lessen the impact of paper on the world's forests, as well as to reduce energy use, air and water pollution, and solid waste," said the authors. "And as businesses like Bank of America, United Parcel Service, and Proctor and Gamble have discovered, saving paper saves money too."

Global paper use has grown more than six-fold since 1950. One fifth of all wood harvested in the world ends up in paper. Pulp and paper is the 5th largest industrial consumer of energy in the world, using as much power to produce a ton of product as the iron and steel industry. In some countries, including the United States, paper accounts for nearly 40 percent of all municipal solid waste.