03 Jul Sustainable Operation of a Paper Company: How They Maintain Responsible for the 12th SDG.
Paper company cut down trees and use the wood to produce paper, this fact is no longer a secret for us. Hypothetically, since people use paper frequently on a daily basis, either to write something on it, print something on it, or to wipe their bottoms after doing number two, and equal number of trees had to be cut down. However, without a proper management and responsible operation, we will lost our forest in no time. This article will try to find out how a paper company could maintain responsible in response of the 12th SDG.
How It Was Made
Paper came from the fiber of a tree, a paper company will take wood and turn it into “wood pulp”, that contains lignin, chemicals, water, and cellulose wood fibers. To turn this wood into a wood pulp, we are required to take away the lignin content from the fiber source. We can say that lignin is the glue that holds the fibers together in a rigid cellular structure, and the rule is, the more lignin we can remove, the more quality the paper will have. Now, there is two methods that a paper company use to make wood pulp.
First, they have the chemical pulping method (also known as “kraft-pulping”), it is the most common way that a paper company uses. This method utilize chemicals and heat to seperate the the cellulose wood fibers from the lignin, as result, we got a pulp mixture that produces stronger paper than other methods. It is the strong paper that we used write on it, print our document on, and the books we made.
Second, there is the mechanical pulping method, which utilize machinery to soak and soften wood chips into pulp. Papers that is made out of this method is typically shorter in length, weaker in strength, and contains more lignin content than the one out of chemical pulping. It is the paper that we use mostly for phone books, newsprint, toilet paper, paper towel and other similar products. The final step of paper-making, is to remove the excess water (wood pulp is 99% water), these separation processes include rolling, drying, and heating.
Speaking of wood, paper is made from softwood or hardwood trees, but about 85% of the wood pulp that is used to make paper in the U.S. came from softwood coniferous trees. In contrary with it’s name, softwood trees has have longer fibers known to produce stronger paper. The trees in this sodtwood category are pines, firs, spruces, hemlocks, and larch. While the trees in the hardwood catagory used for papermaking include aspen eucalyptus, maples, birch, aspen, and oaks.
How a Paper Company Being Sustainable
Considering the process, paper company definitely required to be sustainable to prevent forest damages. Before the tree-cutting, things to consider is to improve and maintain the biodiversity and sustenance of trees for future generations. To do this, a paper company might be tied with regulations that require them to constantly re-plant the ecosystem and invest in ongoing reforestation. Paper producing companies think about increasing forest growth is one option to harvest the wood required to make paper, with the help of thinning.
Thinning is a natural selection process that involves cutting down underdeveloped trees to provide more nutrients and light to the healthy trees, this thinning process is necessary to encourage the growth of robust trees and forests. Other things a paper company would do is that they plant two new trees for every tree that they harvest for paper-making. While they keep re-planting, they will harvest younger trees, which are easier to pulp, while sparing the old one to preserve nature.
To make sure each tree is worth cutting for, a paper company re-plant trees with many things in consideration, and when we said “many”, there is a lot. The results depend on which tree species are used, the age and growing conditions of the trees, soil fertility and moisture, drainage conditions, and the number of trees per acre, all of those affect the tree growth rate and paper quality. The key is, that a wood with a higher density will produce more fiber for the same weight than a low density wood.
For a fun fact, tree species with the fastest growth rates were Loblolly Pine and Hybrid Aspen, while the slowest one is Black Spruce (growth rates of a tree depends highly on climate and temperature). In conclusion, while they operate, a paper company must consider the renewability and growth of well managed forests. Apparently, slogans such as “go paperless” or “go green” wasn’t as accurate as we think, a well-managed forests is capable to provide us enough resources for our daily paper needs with almost no risk of deforestation.
If you’re interested in a different approach for a sustainable energy, you might want to read: The Power of Earth Hour: 1 Hour of Miracle