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Here we have gathered the most common questions we get asked about paper and sustainability.
All papers have two common ingredients; cellulose fibres obtained from wood or recycled from recovered paper, and a small amount of moisture. In addition, some higher-grade papers include pigments such as calcium carbonate or clay which act as fillers or coatings to change the opacity or surface properties of the paper. These pigments are normally fixed using a binder such as starch.
Whilst other substances may be used in a paper mill to assist the process, they don’t make their way into the final product. Specific amounts of ingredients in each paper is given on the paper profiles.
All our mills use what are called the Best Available Techniques to achieve resource efficiency, which means that we use the best technologies and methods of production to ensure our mills are as eco-efficient as possible. We also benchmark our mills' environmental performance against each other and against the best in class in the industry to ensure that we stay ahead and continually improve our performance.
All of our mills operate environmental management systems certified to ISO 14001, and report their environmental performance in annual EMAS Statements. It’s for this reason that UPM Communication Papers is the world’s largest producer of EU ecolabelled newsprint, graphic and office papers.
Our mills use the minimum amount of energy and water needed to produce our papers. After fibre, energy and water are the other two main resources required to make paper.
If you are interested in knowing more about energy or water use at our mills, why not read our EMAS reports and statements, or download one of the Paper Profiles for our papers.
If you want to learn more about resource use in the paper industry, learn more on Sustainability in the paper industry, or download this guide to papermaking.
We can provide comprehensive information about our papers, including an environmental declaration (Paper profile, including carbon footprint), a statement of the origin of wood used, and a Product Safety Profile.
Certifications and product information
We have summarize the journey towards environmentally friendly paper in three steps. You can find the guide here:
Whilst all our papers are both compostable and biodegradable, we don’t have them certified as such. Our papers are designed primarily for graphical uses where the most sustainable and preferred route after use is recycling back into paper.
Yes, all our papers are fully recyclable using the standard type of processes found at any paper mill recycled fibre plant. However, some printing and converting processes can change the characteristics of the paper in a way which then hinders easy recycling. For instance, the use of water-based inks, and extensive use of foil printing, or laminates.
Material Safety Data Sheets are not required for our papers since they are defined as an article, not a substance or a mixture. Our papers aren’t classified as hazardous according to the Global Harmonized System (GHS). We do however publish a Product Safety Profile for each of our papers which details the regulations to which our products conform.
UPM papers have been tested for food contact use and use in children’s toys, where these are known applications of our products. Please contact us for more information on which products carry certification.
The carbon footprints of all UPM papers are calculated annually following the CEPI Ten Toes Methodology. These carbon footprints, called Carbon Profiles’ are included as a supplement to the Paper Profiles for our products.
Discover the limitations of a carbon footprint
A look inside a product carbon footprintnt (fact sheet)
How UPM Communication Papers addresses climate change (infograph)
Over 70% of the energy used by UPM mills is from renewable and non-fossil sources. UPM has invested over 1 billion euros in generation of CO2 neutral energy, and most UPM mills operate biomass CHP plants which generate much of their heat and electrical energy needs.
Forests store vast quantities of carbon and play a significant role in the world's carbon cycle—as well as in human hopes of mitigating global warming. Old forests store huge quantities of carbon, however, a growing body of evidence shows, that young, fast growing forests play actually a larger role in taking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One reason is, that fast growing young trees in newly established forests are able to extract carbon from the air and incorporate it into their biomass more quickly than old trees in mature forests.
Using wood to store the carbon in product cycles, e.g. the paper cycle, is one way to increase this sink. Ultimately, all reforestation programs will only be effective if we simultaneously work to store the bound carbon in product cycles and reduce our emissions from fossil energy.
This is a very complex question, to which there is no general answer. While it’s tempting to think that digital media might have a lower footprint because it doesn’t use paper, it does however require significant amounts of raw materials and energy in ways that often go unseen. The devices we use to access digital media take energy to produce and are made from finite resources rather than renewable materials. In addition, these electronics are amongst the least recycled products. Only 20% of e-products are recycled globally, compared to almost 60% for paper. Adding to this the significant amount of energy that is required to host information on servers, and the carbon footprint begins to add up, it’s estimated that the ICT industry already accounts for 2.5 to 3 % of global greenhouse gas emissions, on a par with the aviation industry. By comparison the entire pulp, paper and print industries emit 1.1 % of greenhouse gases globally.
At UPM, we don’t see printed and digital media as competing platforms, but rather we see them as complimentary options in a mix of different types of media.
It’s almost impossible to produce a paper which is itself carbon neutral through production, simply because that would require not only the paper mill to run on fossil-free energy, but also for all suppliers processes and transport of materials to and from the mill to use fossil-free energy.
Our foremost aim is to produce papers with the lowest possible carbon footprint by reducing the amount of energy required to produce the paper and using a high percentage of renewable or fossil-free energy at our mills. We also encourage suppliers to reduce their own footprint and optimize delivery routing to minimize the impact of transportation.
Once all this is done, there will inevitably be some carbon footprint remaining, so UPM offers compensation of the remaining footprint of any UPM paper grade, to support our customers in lowering their own carbon footprint. The UPM CO2ACT service offsets emissions related to production and transport of paper.
UPM sources wood from our own managed forests and from private and State-owned forests in several countries.
Softwood species such as pine and spruce are used for our mechanical grade papers, and end uses from newspapers to magazines and catalogues because they produce long flexible fibres with good tear strength. Hardwoods such as birch and evergreen hardwoods such as eucalyptus produce shorter thick walled fibres are used for our fine papers where good printability, opacity and bulk are important.
We produce an Origin of Wood Statement for each of our papermills which details the tree species used, the countries they are sourced from, and our PEFC and FSC Chain of Custody details.
UPM has suspended purchasing of wood in and from Russia in line with positions by major forest certification bodies FSC and PEFC.
See Press Release
Three steps towards environmentally friendly paper
All the wood we use is from legal and non-controversial sources, and our preference is to source from forests certified to either PEFC or FSC. We aim to source 100% of our fibre from certified sources by 2030 (currently 83%).
There are far more similarities than differences, with both systems working towards the implementation of sustainable forest management practices around the world. Both systems focus on growing and harvesting timber sustainably, conserving the natural habitats of plants and animals and respecting the rights of forestry workers and local communities.
The primary difference between the certifications is their origins. Initially, the FSC scheme was developed for tropical environments and not suited for forests in Europe and North America. This led to the introduction of PEFC in the late 1990s, to facilitate sustainable forest management certification in Europe.
Of the circa 430 million hectares of forest certified worldwide, PEFC now accounts for over 325 million hectares and includes certification systems endorsed in over 47 countries. Meanwhile, FSC has certified 204,000 hectares of forests in over 90 countries. Today both schemes operate across a wide range of countries and forest types. In fact over 90 million hectares of forest worldwide are in fact certified to both schemes.
All UPM papers can be supplied certified to at least one of the most widely know ecolabels, such as the EU Ecolabel, The German Blue Angel, FSC and PEFC.
In fact UPM Communication Papers is the world’s largest producer of EU ecolabelled newsprint, graphic and office papers. We offer approximately 200 EU ecolabelled paper products from our paper mills in Austria, Finland, Germany and the UK.
The range of environmental issues that each eco label covers is different. Some of them such as FSC and PEFC focus on a single issue (sustainable forestry), whilst others such as the EU Ecolabel cover a range of issues including energy use, emissions and waste. These labels aim to cover more of the life cycle impacts of the product.
Certifications and product information
Eco labels can only appear on products that meet the standards of that particular labelling scheme. In practice, this means that you will have to apply to the relevent certification body for a licence to display a label, which is granted only if the product meets specific criteria. In general you will need to ensure that:
Virgin and recycled fibre are part of single-integrated wood fibre system, and a cycle of production and reuse which would not exist or be sustainable without a continual input of virgin fibre. For that reason it can be said that recycled fibre could not exist without virgin fibre. The two types of fibre are not mutually exclusive, but mutually dependent.
UPM Communication Papers produces a wide range of paper grades which contain recycled fibre, and many which use 100% recycled fibre.
In general we believe most environmental benefit is achieved where recycled fibre is used to replace mechanical pulp since there are obvious benefits in terms of reduced energy consumption. This would be in products such as newsprint and SC papers. We also believe that recycled fibre is best produced as close as possible to large urban populations where the ‘urban forest’, as we call it, can provide a ready volume of recovered waste paper. For this reason most of our recycled fibre is produced and used at our mills in Germany in mechanical grade papers. We also use a limited amout of recycled fibre in our coated magazine grades and fine papers.
UPM is also one of the biggest users of recycled paper in graphic paper production.
We acknowledge our responsibility to address human rights issues in our value chain. This entails a commitment to identify and prevent any harm caused to people, conduct continuous human rights due diligence, and in a case a breaches, to put things right. Our human rights work is based on the UN Guiding Principles of Human Rights and Business and is guided by our Code of Conduct and its associated policies, rules and guidelines. We expect a similar commitment from our suppliers and third parties, as defined in our Supplier and Third-Party Code.
In our operations Safety is our top priority. For us safety means implementing a preventive safety culture and ensuring a heathy working environment for our employees, contractors, partners, and suppliers. It also means encouraging a healthy lifestyle and promoting a good work-life balance.
We believe it is important to pool the talent of people of various competences, backgrounds, genders, ages and nationalities.
Being a global company with a significant local presence, we have financial and social impact on many communities. We are committed to developing their vitality by inviting a free flow of dialogue, anticipating and managing the impacts of our operations, and contributing to the sustainable development of the communities around us.
Contact one of our sustainability experts directly
UPM Communication Papers
PO Box 101749
Tel.+49 821 31090