The increasing demand of paper and paperboard, especially in Northern countries, is one of the direct causes of deforestation and, at the same time, of the expansion of pulpwood plantations -which normally constitute an additional cause of deforestaton- for the obtention of fibre. Paper production and consumption at the global level has reached such alarming figures, that this industry has become one of the most resource-demanding and polluting industries in the world. Pulp and paper is the fifth largest industrial consumer of energy and the first water consuming per ton of product in the world. Additionally to the destruction of forests by intensive logging and the social and environmental negative effects of large-scale tree plantations, the industrial process itself produces high levels of air and water pollution.
Those and other topics are addressed in a recent publication issued by the Worldwatch Institute (Abramovitz, Janet & Mattoon, Ashley.- 'Paper cuts: recovering the paper landscape.' Washington, Worldwatch Institute, December 1999, Worldwatch Paper 149). The document also makes several proposals on how new technologies can be used to curb this unsustainable trend, and how paper consumption can be reduced by modifying consumption habits both in traditional and in emerging markets. The text is accompanied by tables and figures that show the evolution of the sector in the last decades.