What primary raw ingredient base material can exponentially move the needle in two of the largesT climate-change-influencing industries on the planet?

Answer: Cellulose

Paper

40% of all deforestation is attributed to paper and pulp needs. Prominent industries continue 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 to how to reduce the carbon footprint of these industries is not only the reduction of water and energy consumption but also the selection of raw materials.  With deforestation being one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, sourcing raw material cellulose from wood pulp is unsustainable long-term.  Among other unintended consequences of deforestation are 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.

Plastic

Though significantly more volume of paper products are generated relative to plastic, less actually end up in 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 – all with amazingly aggressive targets of impacts by 2025.

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.