The Canadian pulp and paper industry grapples with two broad public misconceptions: that Canada is somehow “running out of trees” and that every time we need new packaging the industry just grabs a chainsaw and heads for the forest.
In fact, only a tiny amount of Canada’s extensive forest lands is actually harvested every year (less than half of one per cent), according to the latest federal government report (The State of Canada’s Forests, Natural Resources Canada, Annual Report 2010). Forest fires burned 11% more and insects and beetles munched their way through an incredible 19 times more! And that half of one per cent is for pulp, paper and lumber uses, hardly any of it for packaging.
By law, all forests harvested on crown land (93% of Canada’s forest land is publicly-owned) must be successfully regenerated. About 72% is currently regenerated through tree planting and direct seeding while the remainder is regenerated naturally. Indeed, Canada leads the world in the adoption of sustainable forest management. Some 150 million hectares of Canada’s forestlands are now third-party certified. Almost 90% of the Canadian forests subject to forest management are now third-party certified to one of the three internationally recognized sustainable forest management standards: Canadian Standards Association (CSA); Forest Stewardship Council (FSC); or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
The corrugated & containerboard industry celebrates its connection with the tree, a renewable resource, because longer and stronger virgin fibres are needed to replenish the shorter, thinner and weaker fibres that gradually wear out as a result of their repeated recycling.
In fact, the average Canadian corrugated box used in Canada comprises just over 10% freshly-cut tree. The balance comes from recycled paper and board (66%) or woodchips, shavings and sawdust left over from logging and sawmilling operations whose primary purpose is supplying lumber for houses, hospitals, universities and so on.