About half of the paper consumed in Europe was manufactured using recycled fibres. The largest amount of recycled fibre is used in packaging materials and Uutisetpaper paper grades.
More than 90% of the paper produced in Finland is exported. This means that it is mostly recovered in Central Europe, the most important market area for the Finnish forest industry. Importing recovered paper back to Finland would not make economic or ecological sense because of the high costs and emissions caused by transports over long distances.
The choice of raw material for paper – virgin fibre or recovered paper – is largely determined by the availability of these fibres in each country. In countries with large forest resources and few
people, paper is mostly made from virgin fibre. In densely populated countries with ample supplies of recovered paper, paper manufacturing mostly relies on recycled fibre. This is why
Finnish paper manufacturing is based on virgin fibre and Central European operations on recycled fibre. The production of Finnish-owned mills in Central Europe is also largely reliant on recovered fibre as it is more readily available in these populous countries.
Virgin fibre always needed with recycled fibre
According to estimates, if the European paper industry were to rely on recycled fibre alone, paper manufacturing would end in a few short months, as it is impossible to reuse recycled fibre
exclusively to make paper – some strong virgin fibre is needed in the mix. Wood fibre can endure some four to six uses, after which its qualities, such as strength, begin to deteriorate. In 2005, about 47 tonnes of paper and paperboard were recycled in Europe: over 60% of the production. About 70% of the paper and paperboard consumed in Finland is recovered. Globally, the average rate of recovery is around 50%. In Finland, the largest amount of recovered paper is collected by industry, which accounts for over half (52%) of all recovered paper. Offices account for 10% of recovered paper and the rest, 38%, is gathered by households.
All paper grades cannot be recycled, including cigarette paper, wallpaper, books and hygienic paper. These grades account for an estimated 19% of total paper consumption.
Wood is a renewable raw material
Finnish forests are a good source of raw material for paper. Forest resources are used in sustainable manner and sustainable forestry aims to protect the biodiversity of Finland’s woodlands. 95% of Finnish forests have been certified, in contrast to the global total, which is less than 10%.
The forest industry bases its activities on a renewable natural resource. The manufacturing operations of the Finnish paper industry place as small a burden on the environment as possible
and the industry uses the best technological solutions available. The industry also makes prudent use of all of the raw materials it procures: The raw materials of paper include wood chips, which are a by-product of sawmilling, and trees with a small diameter that have been thinned to make more room for larger trees to grow.
Fredrik Blomfelt, Senior Advisor, Environment, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, Tel. +358 (0)9 132 6640,