Both virgin and recycled fibres are complementary across the forest products value chain and are key elements of an integrated wood fibre system.
Recycled fibre is an important raw material for our packaging and paper products. For most products, there is a maximum amount of recycled fiber that can be used without compromising product quality. Because recycled fibre degrades each time it is recycled, the systematic introduction of virgin fibre is needed to provide the required product quality and strength. We assess the balance between virgin and recycled fibres in our products on a case-by-case basis, using the optimum solutions to create high-quality, resource-efficient products for our customers. Annually we use around 1.3 million tonnes of paper for recycling (recovered paper).
According to industry estimates, paper can be recycled an average of 4 to 6 times. Each time recycling occurs, the fibres become shorter and weaker and virgin pulp must be introduced into paper production to maintain the strength and quality of the fibre. Without the input of virgin fibre, the production of paper would cease after roughly 6 to 18 months. There are also losses of in the process of collection of recycled paper – the practical maximum recycling rate is 78% and Europe is recognised as a global leader by achieving the rate of 72%. To make the global fiber cycle work, a continual input of 35 to 65% of fresh wood fiber is needed depending on the grade of paper manufactured.
Input of virgin wood fibre into the integrated wood fibre system is needed to ensure recycled paper production and supply are sustainable in the long term. Virgin wood fibre is a renewable natural resource, which we source from sustainably managed forests, which is proved by credible forest certification schemes. 100% of our wood fibre supply originates from FSC-certified, PEFC-certified or FSC Controlled Wood sources as a minimum standard. In sustainably managed forests average harvesting volumes do not exceed growth and forests follow rotation cycles from wood harvesting to compulsory reforestation, naturally or by planting, followed by young forest tending and protection until its maturity.
Read more about the sustainable working forest model.
By sourcing our wood only from responsibly managed forests and by using recycled fibre, we make an important and sustainable contribution to this fibre cycle, supporting the principles of a circular economy. However, we’re currently limited by the availability and quality of recovered material for recycling and we actively oppose the burning of recovered paper as an energy source, which is often prioritised and subsidised. In adopting the cascading use of wood principle, we aim to optimise our own use of virgin and recycled fibre.
Read more about the cascading use of wood approach.