Paper Profile is a voluntary environmental product declaration scheme developed and provided by leading paper producers. This single-page declaration gives essential information regarding the composition of the product, key environmental parameters, environmental management and wood procurement.

Committed to minimising impact

The pulp and paper manufacturers who participate in Paper Profile are committed to minimise the environmental impact of their activities. Measures taken include significant improvements in the production process as well as emission control to air and water. Biofuels are to a large extent used for energy in the production process.

Environmental parameters

The key parameters declared in the Paper Profile primarily relate to the production of pulp and paper: Emissions to air and water, solid waste landfill and the consumption of purchased electricity. The information provided in the single Paper Profile sheet is based on figures reported to environmental authorities. All the items in the declaration are explained in detail in the Paper Profile Manual. The standard parameters (per tonne of paper) reported in the Paper Profile are:

COD (Chemical oxygen demand)

The amount of oxygen consumed in complete chemical oxidation of matter present in wastewater.

Organic substances released from industrial or agricultural activities consume oxygen in water during degradation. Low oxygen content in fresh and sea water can have an adverse effect on plant and animal life.

AOX (Adsorbable organic halogen compounds)

Reported as the total amount of chlorine bound to organic compounds in wastewater.

Such compounds occur naturally, but are also formed in conjunction with the bleaching of chemical pulp. Excess AOX must be limited to a level where it has no environmental impact.

NTot (Total amount of organic and inorganic nitrogen)

PTot (Total amount of organic and inorganic phosphorus)

Nitrogen and phosphorus are chemical elements essential for plant and animal life. Both substances occur naturally in wood and are often added in biological treatment plants. Excessive levels released into water can cause nutrient enrichment (eutrophication) and suppress normal oxygen supply.

SO2 (Sulphur dioxide)

This gas is generated by burning sulphur containing fuels and as a by-product in chemical pulping. On contact with moist air, SO2 forms sulphuric acid, which contributes to acid rain and acidification.

NOx (Nitrogen oxides, NO and NO2)

These gases are produced during combustion. In moist air, nitrogen oxides can form nitric acid which, in turn, is precipitated as acid rain. This nitrogen-containing rain also has a fertilising effect (eutrophication).

CO2 (Carbon dioxide)

In the context of papermaking, fossil carbon dioxide is generated from the combustion of fossil fuels during the production of pulp and paper.

Increased amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are gradually reducing the radiation of heat from the surface of our planet. Carbon dioxide is naturally produced through the biological degradation of organic substances, but also through the combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. It is mainly the latter that contributes to the greenhouse effect.

Solid waste

Organic and inorganic waste materials are defined, calculated and declared as completely dry matter (non-liquid waste landfilled, on site and/or elsewhere). If not properly managed and controlled, leaks from landfills can contaminate ground water. 

Purchased electricity consumption

Amount of purchased electricity per produced tonne of paper.

Note: Emissions of SO2, NOx and CO2 resulting from external energy suppliers are not included in the figures reported in the Paper Profile.

Uniform environmental reporting

The key idea behind Paper Profile is to provide paper buyers with relevant and uniform environmental information, enabling more conscious choices. The pulp and paper industry has a long tradition of open environmental reporting to national authorities and other stakeholders. In today’s increasingly internationalised paper market, this requires a uniform approach to reporting variables and measuring principles. To a large extent, these are also strictly regulated by national and international environmental bodies.

Limits of comparability

Environmental matters are complex and specific figures can not always be compared without taking other environmental aspects into account on a larger scale e.g. site specific considerations. Furthermore, different paper manufacturing processes have different environmental impacts and therefore cannot always be directly compared.

Environmental management systems

Environmental management systems are useful tools which ensure a systematic approach to environmental monitoring and continual improvement. They are today regarded as integral to overall business performance. The certified environmental management systems used by participants in the Paper Profile programme are the ISO 14001 standard and/or the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), which is regulated by the European Union. Both systems cover organisational procedures, procurement, product development, production and distribution. They include both the current status and methods for continuous improvement. In this way, company management can systematically monitor environmental performance, initiate early corrective action, keep track of actions taken and document results.

Sustainability and preservation of biodiversity

Environmentally-conscious forest industry companies continually strive to ensure sustainability and the preservation of biodiversity. Forest certification is a tool to guarantee that the wood used for pulp and paper production originates from sustainably managed forests and legal sources. Currently, the most widely used forest certification systems are the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) and the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC-ID). The paper industry uses both systems equally.

Product composition

The composition of the paper is declared in a standardised Paper Profile graph. The main raw material used in pulp and paper production is wood fibres, originating from own forests or purchased from external sources. Varying amounts of binders, pigments and fillers are also used to provide the required paper characteristics.

Depending on the required paper properties, paper is produced from fresh fibres (chemical and/or mechanical pulp) and/or recycled fibres (deinked pulp). The terms used for the respective pulping method refer to how the wood fibres are separated.

Pigments and fillers (usually chalk or clay) are used to enhance the print properties and other key parameters. Binders are added to the pulp to join the fillers and pigments to each other and to fibres. Binders also prevent dusting, a phenomenon that can cause significant disturbance in today’s sophisticated office and printing systems.

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