Category 18 April 2019

European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN)

The European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN) focuses on raising awareness about environmental issues associated with paper. The Network addresses challenges such as unnecessary paper consumption and reliance on virgin fibre, and solutions including assured social responsibility, clean production and responsible fibre sourcing. EEPN’s work encompasses framework conditions such as the awareness and behaviour of consumers and manufacturing regulations, as well as the use of paper by society as a whole. 

The challenge

Despite the problems associated with resource scarcity, the amount of paper and cardboard produced worldwide is increasing, contributing towards global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.[1] Over 80% of printing paper is consumed in Western Europe and North America.[2] In order to tackle the issue of over-consumption eco-innovative solutions are needed. Market players and consumers alike must change their pattern of paper usage in order to contribute towards the vision of a sustainable lifestyle. By raising awareness about responsibly sourced, ecological paper products and reducing unnecessary demand, resources will be used more sustainably and both suppliers and purchasers will seek more innovative approaches to manufacturing and procurement (including public procurement), in turn helping to  minimise the carbon footprint associated with the paper industry.


The network

The EEPN came into existence through a collaborative process during 2005 aiming at the creation of a common vision for transforming the European paper industry. [3] This agreement was launched in Frankfurt (Germany) in January 2006. At the time of writing, 67 non-profit NGOs with a focus on the paper sector are members, covering 26 countries. These organisations share a similar goal and work together to achieve positive changes in the paper industry and to help reduce paper consumption by promoting sustainable practices and sharing expertise.[4] The secretariat is located in United Kingdom, and financially, the EEPN is mostly supported through grant funding, donations and project support.[5] EEPN is a member of the international Environmental Paper Network (EPN), which was founded in the U.S. in 2001.[6] Member organisations rotate in serving on the Steering Committee.


The benefits

Joining the EEPN offers access to an influential grass roots association promoting responsible solutions associated with pulp, paper making and consumption. The Network has made various useful tools available such as the Paper Calculator[7] or the Shrink Campaign toolkit.[8] The Network has already initiated a number of campaigns and tools for the protection of resources including the RePaper Project[9], a working group on carbon accounting[10], and the paper calculator[11]. Additionally, guidelines for public procurement are available for the paper sector, provided by EPN.[12] There are also a number of best practice examples ready for reproduction on the EEPN website[13]


Further deployment

According to its current progress, the EEPN is implemented to full-scale and therefore qualifies for an estimated level 6 on the generic maturity scale GML.[14] Its secretariat is based in United Kingdom, but it seeks to invite enthusiastic NGOs from across Europe and beyond. The network offers assistance by sharing information, facilitating networking opportunities and providing support. EEPN puts effort into expanding the network and targets stakeholders who aim to encourage more institutions to comply with sustainability criteria. With a vision of an ethical and sustainable future in mind, the Network aims to transform paper consumption and production in Europe and in turn influence the global paper industry.