Category 18 April 2019

Papernet: Initiative for the Sustainable Use of Paper

The Initiative for the Sustainable Use of Paper aims at raising awareness on the unnecessary use of paper, promoting paper recovery, and increasing the use of recycled paper. The work focuses on existing parameters such as, the level of awareness, the behaviour of consumers, manufacturing regulations, and the use of paper in society. Papernet, the network coordinating this initiative, focuses on the extension and operation of the network of stakeholders who aim to comply with sustainability criteria in the paper industry.

The challenge

Despite climate change and the scarcity of resources, approximately 400 million tonnes of paper and paperboard are produced globally[1], which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Over 70% of printing paper produced globally is consumed in Western Europe and North America. In order to become eco-innovative, these regions are forced to be more inventive in their efforts to take both economy and ecology into consideration. Industry, professional associations, SMEs, and also consumers themselves, need to reduce their use of paper, if maintaining a sustainable lifestyle should remain a possibility. Enabling companies to be innovative in their production and remanufacturing, as well as creating a demand-pull by raising the awareness of consumers, will help save resources, thus minimising the carbon footprint.

sustainability criteria

The network

In the year 2000, companies from different industry sectors in Germany decided to take action and work together towards using paper more sustainably. Papernet ("Initiative Pro Recyclingpapier") was born.[2] It is organised on three levels: members, partners and supporters, the latter publishing testimonials of successful examples when changing from wasting paper to using paper in a more sustainable way. Recently, 24 companies from the paper sector became members. These companies include manufacturers, retailers and even multipliers.[3] Many partners have joined the initiative so far, including public bodies such as the German Cities Council, the Federal Environmental Agency of Germany and the Federal Association of Consumer Associations.



The benefits

Joining Papernet provides access to an important stakeholder association in the field of sustainable manufacturing. A number of recent studies are available for further use, such as Future trends: recycled paper and ecological sustainability or It’s time for recycled paper.[4] The network has initiated a number of campaigns for the use of recycled paper which led to an increase in the use of recycled paper in public offices, and in the administrative departments of companies. Guidelines for the procurement of paper are available.  There are a large number of best practice examples from well-known industrial players to help one to explore the innovation potential in ones’ own organisation.

Further deployment

The Papernet initiative qualifies for an estimated level 7 on the generic maturity scale GML.[5] Its members are based in Germany, but it also seeks to invite enthusiastic companies from abroad. The core network group work together with the members to push the initiative and to develop joint objectives. Together with the partners, the stakeholders take action to progressively broaden the amount of recycled paper used both by industry and consumers. The network provides background information, and encourages sharing information, networking, and sharing expertise.