Working with the Environment

The many business start-ups and shut-downs during the economic turmoil of recent years have temporarily increased the level of emissions from paper manufacturing, but the industry’s overall emission reductions remain remarkable: two digit reductions in all emissions in the past 20 years, and up to a 95% cut in emissions of chlorinated organic compounds (AOX).








The graph shows a reduction in the industry’s total environmental impact as well as a relative decoupling of production and environmental impact, i.e. an efficiency improvement has been achieved.

With a long-term trend in the industry to produce lighter paper, performance per tonne of paper does not give an accurate picture of resource efficient improvements. Calculating paper production and sales per square metre instead of per tonne would make water and energy savings
in paper production more visible.

We achieved relative decoupling of production and environmental impact.

Environmental Management Systems

By systematically managing the environmental impact of pulp and papermaking, along with that of its related activities and the products and services produced, overall environmental performance continually improves.

Among CEPI members, 88% of production capacity is certified or registered according to internationally recognised environmental management standards ISO 14001 and EMAS.This figure has fallen by 5% in the last two years.
In 2003, CEPI set the aspirational goal to have all pulp and paper mills in CEPI member countries certified to an internationally recognised environmental management system. However, mergers and the high percentage of SMEs in our industry make it difficult to increase further
the proportion of EMAS or ISO standard use, but CEPI will continue to promote its use.

SMEs represent about two-thirds of pulp and paper companies operating in Europe. This is according to the Eurostat definition of SMEs: companies with less than 250 employees and less than €50 million turnover. This estimate is based on RISI mill asset database figures.

EMAS Certified Paper Mills in Uruguay and China
UPM is one of the first companies and the Changshu site the first ever paper mill to receive the EU Eco- Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) registration in China. UPM already led the way in open and transparent environmental reporting in 2012 when UPM Fray Bentos pulp mill in Uruguay became the first non- European site ever to achieve the EMAS registration as a result of a pilot project between UPM, the EU, Finnish Environmental Institute SYKE, the Finnish Ministry of the Environment and Inspecta Certification.

BREF – The Permit to Operate

The reference document for best available techniques (BAT) for pulp and paper manufacturing, the so called BREF-PP document, is under review by the European IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention Control) Bureau.
The revision process started in 2006 but finalisation of the document has been delayed. The new BAT conclusions are expected to be adopted at the end of 2013, and will be followed by a four-year implementation process by member states.

What is BREF? An Introduction

The purpose of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is to minimise pollution and emissions to the environment from industrial sources throughout the European Union. The IED requires all operators of industrial installations to obtain an integrated permit from national authorities. The operating permit must be based on the Best Available Techniques reference document (BREF). The BREF document on pulp and paper manufacturing is currently being finalised by the European Commission. A new BREF chapter will contain Best Available Techniques (BAT) Conclusions that specify the associated emission limit values and other requirements the pulp and paper mill must comply with in order to operate. IED and BAT Conclusions will set legally binding emission levels for all operators. Whereas in the past BAT were references for local permitting authorities, now all operators must comply with them within four years after the BREF is adopted.

Riding Resource Efficiency

A single industrial site can host the operations of five different companies benefiting from a saw mill’s byproducts and residues: construction timber, pallets, wood chips for pulp, energy pellets, and energy production. A paper mill situated next to a baby food plant uses the excess nutrients from the baby food production for its own biological water treatment processes. Another plant provides the warm water for the local swimming pool and the heat for the local city. Resin from bio-based polylactic acid can encapsulate paper fibres to create a material as strong as wood,steel or hard plastics.

Forests In Europe

Policymakers have increasingly focused on Europe’s forests in recent years. In fact, the EU institutions are currently working on a new Forest strategy to incorporate this focus on forestry resource, while the EU has no mandate on that topic as such. CEPI has also stepped up efforts in the area and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF), the European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) and the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois). The organisations formally committed themselves to strengthen their communication and cooperation in the future. The good news for European forests is that they are growing. Forest growth from 2005-2010 was at 512,000 hectares. Forests are more than 30% larger now than in the 1950s.

We care for the forest and promote the use of certification systems and responsible forest management.

To ensure the continuing health and sustainable use of forest raw material in Europe, solid biomass should only be eligible for subsidies when it is proven to be efficient. If biomass is procured from countries with no mandatory forest accounting, credible proof should be provided that
the harvesting rate in the country does not exceed 100% and the biomass does not come from land conversion.
Forest biomass should come from legal sources and creating bioenergy from wood should only be considered when the “cascading principle” applies. This principle promotes the most efficient use of natural resources, optimising value creation and using the material ideally
firstly for food, then products and finally for energy.

CEPI also advocates a biomass supply policy that would improve wood supply from forests in a sustainable manner to cover the increasing bioenergy demand for wood. While Eurostat stated that ‘a possible further increase in the demand for fuelwood wouldbe sustainable’ as sustainable forest management ensures a growing forest in Europe.However, the paper industry in Europe is making policymakers aware that
we have long used easily accessible forest biomass.
The remaining forest resources are mostly located in small and scattered private properties or areas that are difficult
to access, making the mobilisation of such biomass more difficult and less cost competitive. To gain access to such resources, a relevant intergrated biomass supply policy is required.

Waste And Residues

Production residues can be measured per tonne of finished product. Reducing this volume will increase resource efficiency and help avoid greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past decade, residues to landfill from the pulp and paper industry fell 55%, from 32.7 kg/tonne of product to 14.3 kg/t.

Research into waste streams from paper production has revealed that the waste contains useful elements for delivering value-added products or energy. Some paper producers are already capitalising on these opportunities, but even current best practices are far from gaining the
maximum value from paper sources.

Since the start of 2013 CEPI has been a partner in an EU-funded project, Refibre, which is looking into this area and at how to apply principles of industrial ecology. By 2015 this project should also give an updated picture on recovery and disposal methods for by-products in our industry.

CEPI made an inventory of current best practice for sustainable material management of fibre in the light of existing EU policies and identified areas of improvement. These include in particular setting collection targets for paper and restrictions for landfilling or incinerating
recyclable paper.

CEPI advocates a complete EU-wide ban of landfilling and incineration of recyclable paper by 2015 in line with the Waste Framework Directive that prioritises recycling over energy recovery and disposal. Also the Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe foresees: by 2020, waste is
managed as a resource and energy recovery is limited to non recyclable materials. Europe needs to step up its efforts to ensure that today’s practices do not put at risk the achievements of those milestones.


CEPI has paid close attention to recent developments and policy debates on water sustainability, which policymakers view as a useful indicator of climate change adaptation.

Private initiatives on water stewardship, management standards and footprinting calculations have proliferated. CEPI participates in the Alliance for Water Stewardship, the European Water Partnership and the Water Footprint Network. The European pulp and paper industry has focused to date on water abstraction by mills. The trend over the past two decades has been to reduce freshwater withdrawal, by 20% in total volume and by 47% when calculated as a specific value, per m3/t of product.

Water issues are local and carry different weight across Europe. Starting from a local mill level, but with the entire value-chain of the paper product in mind, CEPI, together with NCASI 1, developed new definitions on water use with a local perspective, using 2008 data.
Reporting in 2012 using the same methodology, water consumption amounts to 298 million m3 (2012), or 7.7% of the water
abstracted. Water consumption in the European paper industry is the sum of evaporative losses from process operation and secondary waste treatment, water in solid residuals and water in products.

In 2012, the pulp and paper industry within CEPI member countries withdrew approximately 3.71 million m3 of water from surface and ground water sources; of which 92.3% were returned to surface water supplies cleaner than before.

Water is fundamental for pulp and paper manufacturing, and CEPI gives the water issue a high priority.
With the purpose of supporting the paper industry and its value chain in its commitment to improving water management, CEPI and the University of Twente, Netherlands, will further apply and improve the 2010 Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) methodology for the sector published by UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education).

A number of important issues remain to be explored, including calculations on forestry in green water footprint, comparison of grey water footprint with life cycle assessment (LCA), and allocation methods when considering the recycling of paper and board in WFA. The
result of the project is expected in 2014. CEPI is closely following the development of the international water footprint standard ISO 14046. Several issues are relevant for the paper industry, especially the definition of water consumption. The new standard is expected to
be issued early 2014. We are also, within the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), developing a standard for water stewardship.

This is designed to give companies and utilities a roadmap towards sustainable water use, including engagement with stakeholders.The intention is to reduce water risk and generate social, environmental and economic benefits across all sectors and regions.

Use Is Not the Same As Consumption

The forest industry uses large volumes of water, but only a small part of this water is ‘consumed’. Water bound up in products and waste counts as consumed. Water that escapes from the processes as steam is also considered to be consumed.
The remaining process water can be reused. It is important to remember the distinction between use and consumption when discussing water issues and the forest industry. There is an increased interest in the water footprint of products as a way to measure the effect of a product on access to water and water quality from a lifecycle perspective.


1 National Council for Air and Stream Improvement,

CEPI aisbl / Confederation of European Paper Industries
250 Avenue Louise, Box 80, B-1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 627 49 11 / Fax: +32 2 646 81 37
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