What Is The Carbon Footprint Of Paper

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A “carbon footprint” refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community.

The carbon footprint of paper takes into account the environmental impact of emissions generated from paper-making activities. The impact is measured from cradle-to-gate, the lifecycle of paper: fibre production; transportation; paper production; and end-of-life recycling.

Galloways offers the climate-smart choice – sustainable paper solutions with a net-zero carbon footprint.

Carbon Footprint

The term “carbon footprint” was coined by BP, in the early 2000s, as part of a marketing campaign around climate change. The phrase, along with “carbon footprint calculator” was invented to highlight the impact of individuals’ personal contributions to climate change, rather than that of fossil fuel companies.

The propaganda has been appropriated, and so, the term carbon footprint has become, literally, a hot topic.

Why Carbon Dioxide Matters

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas: a gas that absorbs heat, and releases it gradually, over time. It’s the most important of Earth’s long-lived greenhouse gases: although it absorbs less heat (per molecule) than other greenhouse gas emissions, like methane or nitrous oxide, there is more of it, and it stays in the atmosphere for longer.

Sunlight warms the Earth’s land and ocean surfaces, which continuously radiate thermal infrared energy (heat). Without this natural greenhouse effect, the Earth’s temperature would drop below freezing. Most of the seas would turn to ice, and it would be so cold that most of life on Earth would not survive.

Increases in atmospheric CO2 have tipped the climate change balance. The Earth’s carbon footprint is too large. Rising CO2 levels generating additional heat mean the Earth’s average temperature is rising, faster than at any time in the past 100,000 years. Human-induced climate change has serious implications for our planet, and its future.

Global warming is playing havoc: winters are colder, summers are hotter; Polar ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising; entire ecosystems are being destroyed. Animal populations are declining at an alarming rate, and so, climate change is being heralded as the sixth extinction.

Paper vs. Planet

Across Europe, deforestation to meet agricultural and industrial demands occurred at an alarming rate. By the 19th century, forests that once covered 80% of the land area had been reduced to less than 25%. Britain also saw a serious decline in forested land.

Through responsible forest management, European forests have grown by more than 30% since 1950. Despite favourable growing conditions, only 12% of the UK’s land is forested, compared with 28% in France, 32% in Germany, and 74% in Finland.

Global paper and paperboard consumption in 2018 amounted to 421.88 million metric tonnes.

In 2019, the UK produced 3.6 million metric tonnes of paper and boards. This generated 2.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, so a 4% increase from the previous year.

Global paper usage has risen by 400% in 40 years, so more trees will need to be planted, if the demand for paper is to be met.

Pulp and paper industries have a significant effect on the environment. In the production process, pulp and paper mills produce nitrogen and sulphur oxides, which are key contributors in acid rain, as well as carbon dioxide. Wastewater discharges containing alcohol or inorganic materials such as chlorates bring risk of water pollution. The industry has a high-water consumption, compared with other industries.

According to Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 74.4% of paper waste was recycled in 2019, representing 3,669,000 tonnes. The shortfall in waste management resulted in roughly 25% (1,260,000 tonnes) of paper being deposited in UK landfill sites.

Carbon Balanced Printing

The UK has just a handful of certified Carbon Balanced Printers. We are proud to be one of them.

In 2005, World Land Trust established its Carbon Balanced Programme. It’s an initiative that provides individuals and organisations with an effective method of fighting climate change and lowering the impact of their carbon emissions.

Carbon balancing is when the carbon impacts of a product or service are estimated, and an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide is either prevented from being released into the atmosphere, or is absorbed from it.

World Land Trust works with partner organisations and local communities to protect and preserve threatened forests and habitats – more than 2 million acres in 20 countries, including the UK – avoiding the release of stored carbon dioxide from the trees and plants that would have otherwise been destroyed.

Galloways is balancing, or offsetting, the equivalent of 207 tonnes of carbon dioxide, enabling World Land Trust to protect and restore 39,537 square metres of threatened tropical habitat in Ecuador, Mexico, and Vietnam.

When you choose Galloways for your print, it means you are part of the solution.

Eco-print Warriors

We recognise the importance of our environmental responsibilities and continually seek to improve our environmental performance and minimise any negative impact.

We’re proud to partner with The World Land Trust organisation. To date, the Carbon Balanced Print and Paper programme has enabled WLT to offset over 250,000 tonnes of CO2. Our World Land Trust Carbon Balanced Certification is just one part of our strategy to reduce our environmental impact.

We also use paper from these forests bears the FSC’s Chain of Custody Certification, which guarantees that the paper came from a sustainably managed forest. We use carbon balanced paper and packaging companies Antalis and Denmaur who align with the FSC’s ethos. They are assessed according to The 10 FSC Principles. This includes maintaining or enhancing the social and economic wellbeing of workers, and helping maintain or enhance the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.

We exclusively offer our customers carbon balanced print, carbon balanced paper and packaging, and we can offset any European produced fibre-based material.


We can even provide our customers with data to help measured for their own net-zero strategy. Data is simple, valid, and measurable. Data can be used for official carbon recording purposes, but only when in line with ISO14001. We can even tell you what your impact could’ve been if you’d already made the switch to Carbon Balanced paper. All based on the print solutions we have previously provided.

At Galloways, we invest and innovate to ensure we offer our customers and the planet the most sustainable solutions possible. Call us today on 01625 870000, and take the first step to reducing your carbon footprint.

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