The CEPI Plan for 2050

The International Panel on Climate Change states in its fourth assessment report that “a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit”. If ever there was an argument to support paper based media, this is surely it. Yet relatively few graphic arts industry organisations, or more importantly their PR machines, have picked up on it. The Confederation of European Paper Industries, CEPI has however been paying attention.

CEPI has published a roadmap for growth up to 2050. The paper industry is often perceived as being one of the world’s grimiest of industries so this roadmap may come as a bit of a surprise to some. It is however much to be welcomed because it is based on paper’s role in reducing environment impacts.

CEPI is no lightweight. The organisation represents over 1,000 European paper mills and nearly 700 companies in Europe, so this roadmap will have serious implications for both CEPI members and their customers, as well as the environment. CEPI says the European pulp and paper industry turns over more than €80 billion and adds €18 billion to European Union GDP. The combined industries employ 230,000 people to produce 89 million tonnes of paper and 12 million tonnes of pulp each year. For CEPI, the European pulp and paper industry is a prime example of how sustainability and competitiveness can be mutually supportive.

The statistics are indeed compelling: 69.6% of paper in Europe gets recycled. Wood is of course renewable and 53% of it that is used in the paper industry comes from certified and properly managed forests. According to CEPI there has been an overall reduction of 30% in GHG emissions related to pulp and paper reduction since 1990. Pulp and paper production produce 20% of Europe’s biomass and 96% of electricity used is produced through combined heat and power generation (CHP). This is all very encouraging and a strong counter to accusations of wanton polluting. It also provides the foundation for a more sustainable future for CEPI members, customers and consumers.

The world will look very different in 2050 but it is certain that resource demands will have grown, particularly for energy and water. Zero emissions and zero environmental impacts are a reasonable assumption if we are to have a low carbon economy. CEPI wants to achieve this and “unfold the potential of forest fibre” through maximising the value from said resource, both for virgin and recycled fibres to produce new products and services. And much of the innovation is expected to come from printed products, from QR code applications to printable paper-based alloys. There are already signs of a new dawn for printed media as workflows start to converge to produce media simultaneously for digital and printed delivery. In future we’ll see much more of the wood from the trees.

/Laurel Brunner

The Verdigris supporters who made it possible to write this article are: Agfa Graphics, Canon Europe, Digital Dots, drupa, EFI, EcoPrint, Fespa, HP, Pragati Offset, Ricoh, Splash PR, Unity Publishing, Xeikon and Xerox.

This work by The Verdigris Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.