Why trees are irreplaceable in the paper products industry

NORTHAMTON, MA/ACCESSWIRE/October 17, 2022/ Commercial forests are essential to the paper products industry and similarly, paper products play an important role in keeping the forest industry strong. We explain why trees are used for many paper products rather than strictly recycled paper or hemp, and how the industry is meeting the demand.

Have you ever thought about the trees needed to make the toilet paper, paper products and cardboard you use every day? The average couple goes through an entire tree every year just in toilet paper!

Paper products like toilet paper play an important role in the survival of private forest owners, who plant 2.5 billion trees a year.

For every tree felled by a sustainable forestry company like Rayonier, several trees are planted in its place in a year. This video shows a recent tree planting season. So the more forest products you use, the stronger the whole ecosystem that powers the industry will be!

Why do we need trees for toilet paper?

The toilet paper must be very resistant so that it does not fall apart during its use. But it must also be soft to ensure comfort. This is why a mixture of trees is used to make it.

The long, strong fibers of softwoods like southern yellow pines and Douglas firs are used to make toilet paper stronger. The shorter fibers of hardwoods like oaks and maples give toilet paper its soft texture.

Why not make toilet paper with recycled paper?

Recycled paper loses its strength and softness through the process of use and recycling. It’s not ideal for use on its own for toilet paper, says John Considine, a materials research engineer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory. Instead, “virgin” wood is preferred to give toilet paper the soft, fluffy qualities we expect. (Virgin wood refers to any freshly cut tree as opposed to wood materials that have been used and reused).

“Once a fiber is dried, it is irreversibly changed,” says Considine. “The more it is dried [to make a product] the shorter the fiber becomes, which makes it less and less soft and less and less absorbent.”

Why do we need trees for cardboard?

For the same reason, virgin wood should be used for the strong outer layers of corrugated packaging. Inner layers can be made from less sturdy recycled cardboard. But the rigidity of the exterior requires a wood pulp that has not been used before.

How important is cardboard? It is an essential tool used all over the world. Considine says an incredible 90 percent of all manufactured goods in the world come in corrugated cardboard packaging, a product made from trees.

Just think about the packaging of your food, medicine and toiletries. Think about all those Amazon boxes delivered to your door and the boxed items you buy from the store.

How are paper products made on a large scale? It starts with the trees, which are processed into wood chips and then turned into a material called pulp. Then the pulp is turned into all kinds of products, as shown in this video from the Idaho Forest Products Commission that takes you behind the scenes of a paperboard mill: https://youtu.be/3t4jSVXjutI

And consumers don’t see the packaging needed to safely bring goods to stores. They are usually packed in extremely strong cardboard containers to prevent them from being damaged in transit. Pallet loads of boxed goods are delivered daily to the stores where we shop. (By the way, the pallets used to load and unload the goods also come from the forestry industry).

More paper products you use every day

Did you know the average American uses over 450 lbs. paper products every year? With the rise of the internet and e-book readers, it seems impossible that we could use so much paper. But consider these ways paper products are part of your day:

  • In the office: Printing paper, calendars, planners, sticky notes, brochures, envelopes, stationery and receipts
  • In the bathroom: In addition to toilet paper, paper towels and tissues
  • At school: Notebooks, loose sheets, cardboard folders, index cards and books
  • For special occasions: Tickets, event posters, photo paper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, cards and gift boxes
  • Off-screen reading: Books, newspapers and magazines
  • In the kitchen: Wax paper, parchment paper, paper plates and cups, food wrappers, paper napkins and bags

This video from paper producer Stora Enso shows some of the many ways paper can be part of your day: https://youtu.be/wGornFRpQOQ

Could most paper products be made with hemp or cotton instead?

While plants like hemp and cotton also play an important role in manufacturing, trees are a natural resource that cannot be replicated.

“Alternative sources could never economically do what wood does. It’s the densest cellulose resource we know of on earth,” Considine says. “All other resources would require a huge outlay in transportation costs.”

For example, he explains, if a paper mill needed 100 tons of wood a day to operate efficiently, that could reasonably be provided by the logging industry. “It would be impossible to get that much hemp or cotton or linen. The density just isn’t there,” he says.

Here are some other reasons why trees cannot be replaced by alternative crops:

  • Large volume growth in many locations: Trees, and especially evergreens, are resilient: they can grow in many different climates and conditions in the United States and around the world. And they can reach 70 feet tall and more! Nothing else has been found that can grow to the same volume as trees.
  • Less environmental impact: Even if an alternative crop could produce as much volume as commercial forests provide, the amount of labor it would require would be bad for the environment. Here’s why: a tree is planted and left to grow for 25, 30 or even 40 years with only a few treatments (like fertilization) throughout its life. Hemp crops, on the other hand, would require equipment to plant, fertilize, and harvest several times a year. And crop rotations would be needed to replenish the soil.
  • Habitat for various ecosystems: As trees grow, they provide habitat for wildlife and plants that could not survive anywhere else. Over 75% of the world’s plants, animals and insects live in forests!
  • Protect water quality: Forests are critical to water quality, with more than half of America’s water supply coming from forests and a third from privately operated forests. You can read more about the important role forests play in water quality in our story, Working Forests Protect Water Quality Across the US

Are we going to run out of trees?

It’s a sensible question: could we run out of trees with so much demand for paper products? Not if the manufacturers of the products use certified sustainable forestry companies like Rayonier. Our certifications ensure that our trees are divided into a variety of “age classes”. In this way, we will always be ready to respond to requests without decreasing supplies.

We voluntarily go through a rigorous process to qualify for these third-party certifications, which are the highest standard in forest sustainability. These organizations also ensure that forest owners protect the environment in all of our forests, maintain wildlife habitat by limiting the amount we harvest from any given area, and never harvest more trees than we can continue to harvest. to grow.

In the United States, our forestlands are certified by: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (“SFI”) and in New Zealand by the Forest Stewardship Council® (“FSC”) and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ ( “PEFC”).

Check any nearby paper or cardboard products. You will likely see the logo of one of these organizations, confirming that the wood in the product is sustainably sourced.

A “wealth” of forests

With careful practices like these in place, it’s no wonder the United States is rich in forests. According to the USDA, the country has 823 million acres of forest and woodland, which encompasses 1 trillion cubic feet of timber volume! That’s why America is one of the top five nations in the world for forest cover.

The United States has more trees today than 100 years ago. Why? This is largely thanks to private forestry companies replanting trees. Many of these companies, including Rayonier, are investing in research to grow trees that are healthier and stronger than ever before. According to the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), private forest owners in the United States grow 43% more timber than we cut. And the USDA reports that only 2% of our nation’s forest land is harvested each year.

This means that we are not only thinking about what we will need today, but what our children and grandchildren will need tomorrow from the forest and paper products industry.

This is the second episode of our series, #ItStartsWithTrees. To learn more about the thousands of products made from trees, read the first article, Why trees are in so many medical products. This explains why trees are needed for medicines, hygiene products, eyeglass frames and many other surprising everyday items.

Discover additional media content and other ESG stories from Rayonier on 3blmedia.com.

Contact information:
Spokesperson: Rayonnier
E-mail: [email protected]

THE SOURCE: spokesman

About Debra D. Johnson

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