Are newspapers made from recycled paper

Paper and the environment - how sustainable are advertising papers?

It is widely believed that printed advertising papers are not ecological and therefore waste resources. But what about the environmental compatibility of paper and print products? And are digital media better for the environment?

Advertising papers in the environmental check: facts about the raw material paper

Newspapers and thus also advertising papers are printed on paper. Due to the high paper requirement during production, print products are often criticized for being jointly responsible for the deforestation of the forests and for poor CO2- Contribute to the balance sheet. But a detailed and differentiated consideration is worthwhile at this point.

The valuable trunk wood of most tree types is far too expensive for paper production and is therefore reserved for other branches of industry, such as the furniture industry. If fresh fibers from wood are mixed in, it is therefore predominantly sawmill waste or wood from thinning. When thinning, foresters take weaker trees out of the forest to give the remaining trees better growth opportunities. Due to the strong storms and droughts, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is currently reporting large quantities of such damaged wood for which buyers are being sought. The ministry states that wood and wood products from sustainable forest management make a significant contribution to climate protection and the conservation of finite resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also proves that deforestation abroad is taking place in favor of continuously growing agriculture and not for the production of paper.

The raw material paper has the potential to be sustainable

Paper can be seen as a truly sustainable medium because it is based on wood, a recyclable and completely renewable material. The prerequisite is that forests are managed in such a way that their diverse functions for biodiversity, climate, groundwater, etc. are preserved as completely as possible. Then the forests can make a valuable contribution to environmentally friendly management.

Around 32 percent of the area of ​​Germany is covered by forest. The results of the last national forest inventory show: In historical and European comparison, the forests in Germany are closer to nature and more species-rich. The wood fibers that are used for paper production in Germany come from sustainably managed and mostly certified forests. Sustainable management means that for every tree that is felled, new trees grow again and that the forest ecosystem is not impaired more than is absolutely necessary. In addition, the European Timber Regulation prevents the import of timber from illegal logging. The Blue Angel for recycled paper or the FSC® certificate (Forest Stewardship Council) for fresh fiber products offer good guidance.

Paper is a valuable product that shouldn't be wasted

The technical progress of the paper industry contributes to a production of paper that is as resource-efficient as possible. 80 percent of the wastewater from the paper mills is recycled and the remainder is returned in a purified form. 70 percent of the water is treated directly by the paper mills and around 30 percent by municipal sewage works. 60 percent of the energy in the paper industry comes from renewable sources. Nevertheless, a lot of energy is consumed in paper production and therefore paper should only be used where and where it is of use. Unwanted advertising is a form of wasted paper. This can and should be avoided through targeted approaches.

The European paper industry cares about the environment

The raw materials for the European paper industry come from controlled, traceable sources. The European paper manufacturers have formulated their goals for 2050 in a roadmap. For example, one goal is to reduce industrial CO2- Reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990. Between 1995 and 2018, the CO2-Emissions per ton of paper in Germany have already been reduced by 36 percent.

Further information can be found on the paper facts page of the Association of the German Paper Industry.

Paper recycling: advertising papers rely on waste paper

In theory, paper fibers can be recycled between seven and ten times. Recycled paper is obtained from waste paper. Compared to fresh fiber paper, the production of recycled paper uses up to 60 percent energy, up to 70 percent water and CO2-Emissions and waste saved. And in Germany, the paper industry already uses an average of 78 percent recovered paper.

Newspapers and advertising papers are usually made from waste paper. For many advertising paper titles you will find a corresponding note on the use of environmentally friendly paper, for example in the imprint: "Recycled paper is used to produce this issue."

The industry's commitment

Publishers' associations, the paper and printing industry joined forces in 1994 to form a “Working Group on Graphic Papers” (AGRAPA) and agreed with the Federal Environment Minister at the time on a voluntary commitment to utilize graphic paper products. Graphic paper products, such as printed matter and office paper, represent the most important group of paper products in terms of quantity, alongside paper packaging. The recycling of graphic waste paper has increased continuously. Germany is now the front runner in paper recycling and the recycling rate is around 80 percent. In addition, the working group is currently making efforts to test more environmentally friendly printing inks for newspapers so that the entry of mineral oil into the recycling cycle can be reduced. For its 25th anniversary, AGRAPA published a video in which its important work and goals are explained.

You too can help and bring all recyclable paper products into the recycling cycle, e.g. via the blue bin in the house collection. Accordingly, paper recycling makes a significant contribution to conserving resources and protecting the environment.

Print versus digital media: which type of communication is more sustainable?

In view of the paper used in the production of newspapers and advertising papers, electronic media are often considered to be more environmentally friendly. But the electronic media also have an ecological footprint that is often underestimated. For the hardware, mineral resources such as rare earths have to be mined and considerable amounts of energy are used to maintain the WWW. A direct comparison is difficult due to the differences, but it is clear that there is no such thing as “black and white”. It takes 25 nuclear power plants to cover the annual electricity needs of the global internet. Due to the increase in mobile surfing and streaming, the trend is rising sharply.

Scientific studies by the Fraunhofer Institute and the Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment show that digital press products are not preferable per se from an ecological point of view. It mainly depends on the individual usage habits of the consumer and the hardware used or the quality and origin of the printed paper. Ultimately, it is important to use all media responsibly. This means, for example, avoiding wasted paper and switching off electronic media when they are not needed.

Paper vision of the environmental organizations

The world's environmental organizations have summarized their vision for the future of paper within the framework of the Environmental Paper Network in a common vision, the “Global Paper Vision”. In simple terms, the vision comprises the key points:
• Save paper / avoid wasting paper
• Expand paper recycling
• Safe origin of the wood for fresh fiber papers - at least FSC-certified
• Clean production (avoidance of harmful chemicals such as chlorine, CO2-Reduction etc.)

Additional information:
#WhatsInYourPaper - Youtube channel of the Environmental Paper Network