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Carbon Footprint Assessment of a Paperback Book

Can Planned Integration of Deinked Market Pulp be Detrimental to Climate?


  • Jean-Robert Wells,

  • Jean-François Boucher,

  • Achille-Benjamin Laurent,

  • Claude Villeneuve

Jean-Robert Wells, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Département des Sciences fondamentales, 555, boul. de l’Université, Chicoutimi, Québec, G7H 2B1, Canada.


This study presents the carbon footprint of a paperback book for which the cover and inside papers were produced in the United States and printed in Canada. The choice of paper mills for both cover and page papers was based on criteria such as percentage of recycled content in the pulp mix, transport distances (pulp mill to paper mill, paper mill to print), and technologies. The cradle-to-gate assessment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions follows recognized guidelines for carbon footprint assessment. The results show that the production of 400,000 books, mainly distributed in North America, would generate 1,084 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq), or 2.71 kilograms (kg) CO2-eq per book. The impact of using deinked market pulp (DMP) is shown here to be detrimental, accounting for 54% of total GHG emissions and being 32% higher than reference virgin Kraft pulp. This supports findings that DMP mill GHG emissions strongly correlate with the carbon intensity of the power grid supplying the pulp mill and that virgin Kraft mills that reuse wood residue and black liquor to produce heat and electricity can achieve lower GHG emissions per tonne of pulp produced. Although contrary to common thinking, this is consistent with the Paper Task Force 2002 conclusion for office paper (the closest paper grade to writing paper or fine paper) (EDF 2002a). To get a cradle-to-grave perspective, three different end-of-life (EOL) scenarios were analyzed, all of which included a harvested wood product (HWP) carbon storage benefit for 25 years. The GHG offset concept within the context of the book editor's “carbon-neutral” paper claims is also discussed.

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