The CELPA universe (Portuguese Paper Industry Association) includes a group of pulp, paper and different types of paper and paperboards producers. Actually, the industry activity extends to almost every lifecycle of the products, being involved from the raw material production (forestry production) till the processing of products at the end of the lifecycle (through recycling or energy production using recovered paper). This is an industry with unique characteristics in the Portuguese and worldwide industrial portrait and it has, necessarily, to interact with several stakeholders (Portugal, European Union, NGOs, forest producers, Universities, local authorities, Portuguese Society) along all the value chain.
The Portuguese paper industry made a great progress in the past few years, in the way it is considered and how addresses the pollution issues and the environment in general. The environmental and social responsibility of companies is becoming even more the dominant paradigm of the industrial management. This industry is confronted also with an extreme complexity concerning to chemical and mechanical processes of pulp and paper production. In this context, the issues associated with CO2 emissions, energy consumption, gas consumption, biomass use, water consumption, among others, are related to the day to day management of this industry.
Therefore, and also for the business nature, the environmental issues are part of the sector companies management.
Since the 80’s, this industry have initiated a strong investment in the acquisition of new equipment, that contributed to reduce its environmental impact.
Given the fact that this industry growth is dependent of a renewable and natural resource, the companies are developing actions along the value chain as well as their own sustainable management systems in their own areas.
The companies’ forest area certified by PEFC and by FSC – two standards that certify the sustainable forest management – is increasing over the last few years.
This industry is also developing managing practices that allows the reduction of, for example, the water consumption by tonne produced, the effluents and the CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases. Actually, about 86% of the pulp and paper total production is certified by ISO14001, 86% has also the hygiene, health and safety at work by OSHAS 18001 and 18% is certified by EMAS.This growth was accompanied by continued environmental investments, which is reflected in the quality certification of 100% of paper products, being 80% environmentally certified.
This industry has been establishing itself as one of the most balanced in achieving two national goals: economically, the reduction of the trade deficit and the significant growth of exportations; environmentally, the limitation of CO2 emissions. This statement is based on an investment history and continued improvement, confirmed by the statistical data and official information of reference.
The industry has been achieving a sustainable economic performance as well as a growing concern about the environment. The need to incorporate the environmental concerns in every day management of companies is reflected in this industry, in the next several ways:
- In the use of the best available techniques applied in the most of the facilities
- Adopting voluntary actions that minimize the industry impacts such as the developments of training actions with private owners and other business partnerships.
- And through a strong involvement in the discussion with regulatory authorities both national and international, on the several economic and environmental themes, whose developments will strongly affect the sector future.
In the industrial course, global and national, the paper industry has relevant specificities to climate changes, result of the technical characteristics of the industrial processes. As it was said before, in the 80’s, companies started already with strong environmental investments. The biomass use for energy self-supply, through cogeneration units instead of using fossil fuels, represented a significant achievement when compared with other energy-consuming national sectors.
The industry adopted measures that contribute directly to the reduction of greenhouse gases and, consequently to the mitigation and reduction of the paper industry contribute to the climate change problem.
These measures can be summarized like this:
- Biomass instead of Fossil fuels;
- Natural Gas instead of fuel oil;
- New biological treatments for effluents;
- Energy efficiency improvement of processes;
- Extenuation of noise and odors discomfort;
- Appropriated management of forest areas ;
- Use of improved varieties of Eucalyptus.
Forest Fire Prevention and Combat
In the forest and environmental sustainability point of view, the paper industry has some unique characteristics. It is based on the exploration of a natural, renewable resource functioning as carbon sinks, through its managed forests. Produces products with a high carbon content, that works as sinks, proportional to its useful life; produces products several times recyclables, prolonging its useful life; produces biodegradable products, reducing the environmental impact of its final disposal.
There are many projects and actions that promote a balanced and responsible forest management, since the genetic improvement programs, fertilization and controlling pests and diseases, to studies related to biotechnology and knowledge of the genetic structure of the eucalypt, actions in the equipment area, technical efficiency of operations, transportations efficiency, improving the security conditions at work. Great part of these actions are not held in companies, on contrary, are shared with partners, being partners, owners associations, or providing services companies which the industry has a long tradition of cooperation.The companies of the industrial sector with forest activities are certified by the international systems of forest management, FSC and PEFC. In addition, the paper industry companies are working for the sustainable management, together with other entities, like the forest producers associations. CELPA had a crucial role in creating in Portugal the Portuguese Forestry Sector Council, whose goal is the promotion of the sustainable forest management and its certification by extern entities.
The paper industry competes in a global market where, in general, quality is granted. Environmental values are today, as they were in the past for this sector, a part of this quality.
We do not conceive a modern industry with a future that does not treat the environment in the serious and responsible way the process efficiency, the workers training and the relations with third parties are treated. All of these are parts of the same concerns package that allows us to face the future with the possible tranquility in dynamic markets and, fortunately, progressively more existents.