New Study Questions Climate Benefits of Recycled Paper

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According to a study conducted by researchers at Yale University & University College London—published in Nature Sustainability—the recycling of paper could have a negative impact on climate.

The study concludes that recycling paper is likely to have a limited climate benefit and a higher climate impact than the production of fresh fiber-based paper, because recycled paper uses more fossil energy than the production of new paper.

Recycled paper uses natural gas or electricity from the grid: both are energy sources with a high fossil content. Fresh fiber paper can be produced with fossil-free energy, made from by-products of the wood pulping process.

According to Johan Granås—Sustainability Director at Iggesund Paperboard—“Iggesund emits 33 kg/ton in direct CO2 emissions when producing Invercote paperboard, while one of Europe’s leading recycled fiber producers emits 294 kg/ton CO2 emissions, and some American paper recyclers release more than 1,000 kg/ton.”

“These conclusions are in line with what we see on the market,” says Granås. “It is quite clear that the production of paper or paperboard from recycled fiber generally has a higher climate impact than producing paper from fresh fibers. But, if we didn’t have recycled fiber, today’s production would not be able to cover all needs.”
Source: Limited climate benefits of global recycling of pulp and paper.
 

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