Towards a Sustainable Paper Cycle
At the Earth Summit in 1992, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD, then called the BCSD) produced a report entitled "Changing Course" which set out how the private sector would meet the challenge of sustainable development. Soon afterwards, the WBCSD decided to go further and examine the issues facing a single industry sector in the context of sustainable development. As a result, IIED was contracted to conduct an independent study of the pulp and paper sector. It was envisaged that the study could serve as a model to be followed by other industry sectors.
The pulp and paper sector was an ideal candidate for study because of its economic and social significance. Paper products are used to communicate ideas, to inform and instruct, and to record events and cultural information. They also play a key role in human health, in the form of food packaging, medical dressings and sanitary products. The paper industry accounts for about 2.5 per cent of the worldís industrial production and two per cent of world trade. A further reason is given by recent environmental pressures on the sector. Finally, given the sector's heavy reliance on renewable resources it appeared to provide a good test case. If it proved impossible to move towards sustainable practice for this industry, what prospect could there be for sectors based on non-renewable resources?