• life cycle assessment;
  • materials choice;
  • paper recycling;
  • pulp and paper industry;
  • sustainable development;
  • sustainable forest management


The production of paper is a key economic activity accounting in value terms for about 2.5% of the world's industrial production and 2% of world trade. Paper products make a vital contribution to education, communications, packaging, and health care. In recent years the paper cycle has become the focus of environmental concerns about the impacts of forestry pollution from manufacturing, and waste. To address these concerns, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development commissioned the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) to examine the sustainability of the paper cycle. The first phase ofthe study involved a review of literature related to the paper cycle to identify the main debates and gaps in knowledge. This was followed by a journal of Industrial Ecology wide-ranging program of research and consultation on various aspects of the paper cycle. This article summarizes the key findings of the study for different stages of the cycle covering issues such as the impacts of forestry, the outlook for fiber supply, the role of nonwood fiber; the environmental and social impacts of pulp and paper manufacturing, the choice of options for wastepaper and the contribution of the paper cycle to greenhouse gas emissions. The study makes a number of recommendations for the pulp and paper industry, governments, international agencies, consumers, and nongovernmental organizations