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 user 2007-12-05 at 11:50:00 am Views: 53
  • #21303

    China’s Demand For Recycled Wastepaper: A Blessing And A Curse For The World’s Forests
    07 — China’s paper industry has built-up a massive recycling capacity
    that is shielding forests worldwide from destruction by supporting a
    strong international market for wastepaper as an alternative to
    pulpwood, according to a new report released by Forest Trends, a
    leading international forestry organization.

    Forest Trends report, Environmental Aspects of China’s Papermaking
    Fiber Supply, notes that today about 60 percent of the fiber used to
    manufacture paper and paper board products in China is derived from
    wastepaper–a substantial portion of which comes from the US, Europe,
    and Japan. In the last ten years China’s wastepaper imports increased
    by more than 500 percent–from 3.1 million metric tons in 1996 to 19.6
    million metric tons in 2006–with most of that growth occurring between
    2002 and 2006.But the report warns that wastepaper alone is not
    sufficient to keep up with China’s production demands, as high quality
    pulp and pulpwood are also being used to supply international buyers
    with high quality paper. The report finds that the same explosive
    growth that’s created such a strong market for wastepaper is also
    boosting China’s demand for pulp and pulpwood from developing countries
    already struggling to contain illegal and destructive logging. For
    example, China today buys some of its pulp and pulpwood from Indonesia
    and Eastern Russia where illegal, environmentally rapacious logging is
    widespread. And any increase in demand could exacerbate problems in
    those regions.”China is by far the world’s biggest consumer of
    wastepaper and that’s a good thing because in the last four years
    alone, China has prevented 65 million metric tons of wastepaper from
    heading to landfills in the US, Japan, and Europe,” said Brian
    Stafford, the lead author of the report and an expert on the
    international pulp and paper industry. “Just last year, China’s use of
    wastepaper instead of trees to make paper products probably saved 54
    million metric tons of wood from being harvested for pulp.”But Stafford
    said that as China’s producers scramble to meet growing domestic and
    international demand for paper products especially for higher quality
    papers, they continue to “source substantial amounts of wood and wood
    pulp from countries where good forest management cannot be
    assured.”"The biggest environmental challenge related to China’s paper
    industry is to prevent its growing demand for fiber from driving ever
    more forest destruction in places like Indonesia and Eastern Russia,”
    he said. “Wastepaper can only provide so much fiber and with huge new
    pulp mills coming on line in China, there is a legitimate concern that
    future growth in China’s paper industry is going to happen at the
    expense of already stressed natural forests in the tropics.”

    report comes amid growing international controversy over the influence
    of China’s industry on the global market for paper and raw timber.
    Environmental groups worry that China’s paper industry, along with its
    similarly red-hot wood products industry, is meeting rising domestic
    and international demand by ramping up imports of logs and pulp from
    abroad without focusing on whether the materials come from legal and
    sustainable forests.At the same time, producers in the US, claiming
    that government subsidies give Chinese producers an unfair advantage in
    the world paper market, recently convinced the US Department of
    Commerce to place trade sanctions in the form of higher import duties
    on glossy paper manufactured in China.But as environmentalists worry
    about the effects on forests, and US paper producers nervously monitor
    the market power of their Chinese counterparts, it’s clear that the
    growth of China’s paper industry is playing a major role in ensuring
    the viability of wastepaper recycling programs in the US, Europe, and

    In 2006, the US alone sold 8.6 million metric tons of
    wastepaper to China–2.8 million metric tons more that its entire 1996
    global trade in wastepaper. Wastepaper is now one of the top US exports
    to China by volume. The report observes that today it’s not unusual for
    Chinese container ships to off-load goods at US ports and then return
    to China loaded up with US-collected wastepaper. According to an
    article earlier this year in The New York Times, Zhang Yin, the owner
    of China’s largest paper company, Nine Dragons Paper–and reportedly
    China’s wealthiest woman–got her start in the business driving around
    the United States collecting wastepaper from landfills and shipping it
    to China.Ironically, the high quality of US wastepaper that makes it so
    attractive to recycling operations in China is due to the fact that
    most US paper companies manufacture their products with “virgin fiber”
    derived from timber.The report notes that about three-quarters of the
    fiber China gets from wastepaper is used “to manufacture corrugated
    cardboard boxes to ship the great quantities of Chinese goods such as
    consumer electronics, clothing, and furniture to overseas markets.” The
    rest is mostly employed to make newsprint, as well as certain types of
    coated paper used in magazines and advertising catalogues (though not
    the coated paper that was the subject of the US trade complaint).”It’s
    clear that the sheer volume of the wastepaper used in Chinese
    manufacturing has a very beneficial and stabilizing effect on the
    global market for wastepaper, which in turn makes wastepaper collection
    a viable ‘green’ option for communities in wealthy countries,” said
    Kerstin Canby, Director of Forest Finance and Trade at Forest Trends.
    “But we remain concerned that Chinese paper companies can’t survive on
    wastepaper alone, and when they look for other types of fiber–chiefly
    fiber needed for export-quality paper–some large firms have a tendency
    to go shopping for wood and pulp in countries where natural forests
    already are under tremendous pressure.”For example, the report found
    that of the 7.4 million metric tons of high-grade printer paper China
    produced in 2005, only 64 percent “can be regarded as having been drawn
    from sustainably managed wood resources.” For example, Indonesia and
    Eastern Russia are among China’s suppliers of pulp and pulpwood and the
    report concludes that “paper manufacturers that source from these
    countries are likely to be running a high risk of including illegally
    logged wood in their product.”

    The report recommends that
    Chinese paper companies should adopt systems, such as those that have
    been established by the non-profit Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and
    the Tropical Forest Trust, that would enable them to track pulp and
    pulpwood all along the supply chain in order to verify it comes from
    legal and sustainable forests. For example, in Western Russia, two
    logging companies have worked with four of the world’s biggest
    consumers of paper products–publishers Axel Spring, Time UK and Random
    House in addition to packaging manufacturer Tetra Pak–to create a
    transparent supply chain of wood fiber derived from legal and
    sustainable forests.The report also calls on government or “public”
    buyers of paper to police their supply chains for illegal wood as a way
    to encourage other major importers to do the same. The report observes
    that the EU and Japan already have gone this route for several wood
    product categories and that China could start with a pilot procurement
    program that ensures paper supplies related to the 2008 Beijing
    Olympics are manufactured with raw materials derived from verifiably
    legal and sustainable sources.