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ASPAPEL releases its sustainability report

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ASPAPEL releases its sustainability report

October 27, 2011 - 01:01
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MADRID, Spain, Oct. 27, 2011 (Press Release) -The new Pulp & Paper Sector's Sustainability Report published by ASPAPEL (Spanish Pulp and Paper Producers Association) represents a determined stance in favour of the bio-economy, the low-carbon economy based on the efficient use of natural resources. The key lies in optimising the use of wood, the natural and renewable resource that underlies paper-making.

The concept is to use wood to produce pulp and paper but also bio-energy, bio-fuels, bio-composites... in green mills that generate green employment in rural areas; and to produce recycled paper in urban areas in mills that incorporate waste management facilities, thereby deriving the maximum usage from recycled paper and board, by dedicating process waste to produce mouldings, insulation products, waste paper bio-composites ... and finally to obtain its full value as a source of energy.

The making of the Report

The report provides detailed information about the work carried out by the sector since the last edition in 2008 and explains to what degree the objectives set at that time have been met and how the various indicators developed over the period 2007-2010. It also attempts to respond to the concerns and demands raised by sector stakeholders in the prior consultation process. Finally, it sets a further series of targets and actions for the coming three years.

To draft the report, data about the various indicators was collected from companies throughout the sector, thus providing an overall perspective of the industry, which is precisely the pioneering nature of this report: in 2005, the P&P sector was the first to publish a sector-wide Sustainability Report in Spain.

This third edition of the Sustainability Report was drawn up according to GRI reporting methods under Bureau Veritas accreditation and has been awarded a GRI B+ mark.

In addition, a pre-survey of a wide range of sector stakeholders was carried out by e-mail, also under Bureau Veritas verification and validation. These stakeholders were divided into eight main groups: responsible consumption, forestry issues, recycling, the environment, energy, the future of paper and its uses, sector communications and economic sustainability.

Paper grows on trees and makes trees grow

Paper grows on trees - that is why it is natural and renewable. But paper also makes trees grow: more paper means more trees and more rural employment.

More paper = more trees:In Spain, wood for paper-making is planted and grown on 359,000 hectares of sustainably-managed plantations that are continually being regenerated and reforested and which contribute to increasing total forest landcover.

More paper = more rural employment:In Spain, tree plantations for paper-making account for about 4,120 direct jobs in rural areas to perform the replanting and forest husbandry work required on these plantations. Apart from this direct employment, the plantations also induce a further 12,360 jobs (machinery, transport, workshops...) and represent a significant dynamic force in rural development.

More paper = less CO2:These plantations are large CO2 sinks (they store 21 million tons of CO2 equivalents: eucalyptus fixes twice as much carbon per year as chestnut and five times more quickly than Holm oak).

Commitment to sustainable forest management:In Spain, 33% of mills in the sector (100% of pulp mills) hold a certified Chain of Custody. 100% of pulp suppliers to integrated paper mills and 65% of wood suppliers also hold certification. Despite these figures, only 10.7% of the wood consumed by the sector in 2010 was certified. Now the challenge is to increase the amount of certified forest land in Spain (currently only 7.5%, compared to the European average of 30%).

Encouraging the supply of certified national wood is how to increase the supply of certified products on the market. In Spain, in 2010, only 24% of market pulp production and 6.5% of paper production was certified.

The efficient mill

The environmental revolution that has taken place in the pulp and paper industry in recent years has made the sector's concept of the efficient mill come true, both in environmental and economic terms. Energy efficiency, efficient water usage and efficient process waste management are the three main pillars that uphold this green revolution.

In Spain, nearly all production (93%) is carried out according to certified environmental management systems.

Cleaner, renewable fuels:Natural gas accounts for 64% of the fuels used by the spanish pulp and paper sector and biomass 34%, whereas consumption of coal and fuel-oil, which was already very low (5% of the total in 2006), has now come down to 2%.

CHP co-generation, the efficient energy,recognised as a BAT (Best Available Technology): with 1105 MWe of installed power in 2010, the spanish paper sector not only produces the energy it consumes but also supplies its surplus to the national grid. Despite the economic crisis, installed power capacity from CHP plants has managed to increase slightly (an additional 25 MWe) over the 2006 mark.

The spanish sector has also managed to separate increased emissions from both pulp and paper making and electricity generation: total CO2 emissions by the sector stand at 4.4 million tons, while SO2 and NOx emissions stand at 4,300 and 12,400 tons respectively in 2010.

Process waste re-usage:In Spain, 61% of waste from the paper-making process is re-used for different purposes: direct agricultural use (32%), ceramics industry (10%), compost (9%), cement industry (7%)...

Less water and cleaner effluents:In Spain, with similar pulp and paper production levels, effluent volumes came down by 11.2% in 2010 compared to 2006. Effluents have improved in all parameters and have continued to reduce in volume over the period 2007-2010, reaching the current figure of 31.9 m3/ton of pulp (compared to 35 m3/ton in 2006) and 7.8 m3/ton for paper (vs. 8.7 m3/ton in 2006).

Recycling: the challenge of bettering success

Paper and board recycling in Spain is a success story about the efforts and commitment made collectively by the public at large, government agencies and the actual paper industry itself. Starting from a much more modest position, in just a few years we have joined the elite in terms of paper recovery and recycling.

In today's recycling society, the paper industry plays a leading role. Paper-based products are one hundred percent recyclable and paper is the most recycled material in Spain.

We recover 4.6 million tons of used paper and board for recycling: 71.9% of all the paper and board we consume, in Spain. That high level means that we continue to be members of the 70% Club, which we joined in 2009 and where we rub shoulders on equal terms with the top countries in the world in paper and board recovery.

The Spanish paper industry recycled more than 5 million tons of used paper in 2010. This fact places us at the forefront of recycling in Europe, second only to Germany in terms of recycled paper volumes and practically on a par with France and Italy in second place.

The paper cycle - the cycle of life

Going one step beyond responsible consumption, today's society demands products that are integrated in a natural cycle, that come from Nature, are recycled and then return to Nature. Unlike paper, very few products are able to satisfactorily meet all the requirements made by the consumer of the future in this society of recycling and bio-consumership.

The answer lies with Nature herself as she continues unerringly to innovate in order to guarantee her own future. In the Pulp and Paper sector, that future is already here, with intelligent products that interact with the consumer (heat-sensitive papers that tell you whether fruit is ripe or not, paper and board packaging that can store medical data and tell you when to take your medicine), paper batteries, screens made of cellulose fibre...

Behind such paper-based products lies a sector that generates wealth from its unwavering commitment to sustainability: In Spain, it exports half of its production (52% pulp and 49% paper), it creates stable, skilled employment and, by using a natural and renewable resource which in Spain still has a largely untapped potential, it is a key sector for the industrial future of our country.

The supply of raw materials to the P&P spanish industry is a good example of the sector's potential to generate green employment in rural areas. In 2010, of the total 7.9 million tons of raw material procurement, 24% was virgin fibre, 65% recovered fibre and 11% auxiliary materials.

Direct employment stood at 17,200 jobs, plus an extra 85,000 in induced employment, that is 5% less than in 2006 - a modest loss of jobs compared to the Spanish economy as a whole that demonstrates the stable, skillful and highly productive nature of the employment offered by the sector.