What primary raw ingredient base material can exponentially move the needle in two of the largesT climate-change-influencing industries on the planet?
40% of all deforestation is attributed to paper and pulp needs – prominent industries that have continued to innovate and look for new ways to decrease carbon footprints; including new technologies to use less water and energy.
For most, when we think about paper, it is simply “made from wood”; however, that is only partly true. Paper is made from the cellulose derived from wood during a pulping process where wood is “cooked” with sodium hydroxide and sulfide liquor under high pressure to remove the lignin and separate cellulose.
With the ongoing global reliance on paper and paperboard products, the answer in reducing the carbon footprint of these industries is in reduction of water and energy consumption and managing raw materials. Sourcing the raw material cellulose from wood pulp is highly unsustainable with deforestation being one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and having other unintended consequences of disrupted livelihoods, carbon sink, negative biodiversity, and overall forest degradation. Between 2004 and 2017, over 160,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of California, were lost in these deforestation fronts.
With the huge amount of paper and pulp products used today, interestingly, though more tons of paper are generated, less actually end up in the landfills and remain in oceans. Not only have plastics created the world’s largest pollution problem, but the process to create them from oil and gas fossil fuels has significantly contributed to GHG emissions. It’s no wonder that, in August 2020, the United States launched the U.S. Plastics Pact. Since 2020, the U.S., Europe, UK, Australia and New Zealand, India, South Africa, Canada, Portugal, Kenya, and others have launched plastics pacts with thousands of corporations volunteering to join these pacts – all with amazingly aggressive target of impacts by 2025.
Since being invented in 1862 and fully synthesized in 1907, plastics have positioned themselves as one of the most important materials known to the modern world. They have served in nearly every industry and provide solutions from storage to industrial use, to medical solutions. With their obvious importance, simply reducing usage is a limited option. However, increasing recyclability and biodegradability is crucial to decreasing the effects of plastic on the world – effects that are the result of using a more sustainable raw ingredient material that truly reduces GHG emissions.