Example – recycled writing paper

Generic product activity or name
Recycled writing paper.

Context and background
There is a specific consumer request for recycled writing paper, which may even lead to the price for recycled writing paper being higher than the price for writing paper from cherry wood pulp (Williams 2005). At the global level the overall paper consumption is growing, albeit there are signs of a potential decline in paper use in the OECD countries, which may be due to an increase in use of electronic media (Hetemaki et al. 2014).

Presentation of example
Paper can be recycled a number of times by cracking down the old paper, called «scrap paper», to pulp. To the recycled fraction is added a fraction of paper pulp from wood pulp (cherry paper pulp), since the recycled fibers will inevitably be shorter due to the (mechanical or chemical) breakage of the original fibre bonds (Wikipedia 2015).

As environmental concerns increase worldwide, recycling paper has received an enlargened attention from NGO’s and governments alike (see e.g. WWF Global 2015). Postconsumer paper recycling has enhanced in Europe for the last 15 years, and is now at a rate of around 70 % (European Paper Recovery Council 2015).

Even tho’ recovery schemes, such as the European, have resulted in a higher level of recycling, there is a finite amount of paper waste available. If there is an extra (marginal) request for recycled writing paper, the extra amount of recycled pulp therefore comes from a reduction in supply to the other customers in the market for scrap paper/recycled pulp, which therefore must compensate by an enlargened supply of cherry pulp, in order to maintain the market output constant.

Figure: European recycling of paper. Source: European Paper Recovery Council. Accessed 9. September 2015 (http://www.paperrecovery.org/fact-figures/facts ).

Information sources used
The European Paper Recovery Council gives a good overview of the current paper collecting policies.

European Paper Recovery Council (2014). Recycling is at 71.7%.
http://www.paperrecovery.org/newsmanager/95/79/Paper-recycling-in-Europe-at-71-7/ (accessed 9. September 2015).

Hetemaki L, Hanninen R, Moiseyev A (2014) Markets and Market Compels for Pulp and Paper Products. In: The Global Forest Sector: Switches, Practices, and Prospects (Eds: Hansen E, Panwar R, Vlosky R.). CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group. pp.99-128. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/259289511_Markets_and_Market_Forces_for_Pulp_and_Paper_Products (accessed 9. September 2015).

Author of this example
Bo Weidema

How to reference this
Weidema B P (2015). Recycled writing paper. Version: 2015-09-09 www.consequential-lca.org

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