One dirty lie removed from plastics’ industry website …

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) this past weekend quietly removed a claim on its website about the use of trees to make paper bags, after mounting pressure from PPEC. So far, however, we have not received an apology from either CPIA or its consultant.1

This was the CPIA claim: that kraft paper production “is very resource intensive because it uses only half of the tree. The other 50% of the tree ends up as sludge which is burned, spread on land or shipped to landfill.”  Leaves a nice image, doesn’t it? If this were true, there would be no kraft pulp-making industry in Canada or anywhere else, as its balance from raw material to product (wood to pulp, to make paper and paperboard) would be ridiculously uneconomic.

Virtually 100% of any tree harvested for kraft paper production is used and/or re-used.

In fact, virtually 100% of any tree harvested for kraft paper production is used and/or re-used. Here are some quotes from the website of just one of the three Canadian mills that makes paper bag material:  “Branches and needles (the most valuable parts of the tree for their nutrient value) are returned to the forest soil. Bark and other wood residuals are efficiently combusted to make electricity, or they are processed into wood pellets for energy systems. Logs are sawn into lumber. Wood chips and other residual material (from sawmilling) are used to produce not only pulp and paper but also the very energy that drives the kraft process.”

A modern kraft mill, in fact, “operates as a large-scale bio-refinery, separating fibres from one another, using the non-fibrous components (such as lignin, hemicelluloses) as fuel, minimizing waste and ecological impact. Not unlike the efficient closed loop system of nature, the by-products of one part of the process become the fuel for another.” 2

CPIA’s research on this topic was incredibly sloppy. What’s so hard about making three phone calls or searching just three mill websites? Not to mention a PPEC press release that clearly stated that all kraft pulp producing mills in Canada “generate steam and electricity from wood and process wastes (chips, shavings, sawdust) (and that) these are burned in the mills’ recovery and power boilers to (generate process steam and electricity) and to recover the pulp-making chemicals.” 3

Willful ignorance or deliberate smear?  You be the judge.

1Email from Sally Potter, PR Post, Consultant for CPIA, Feb.7, 2013 re: Substantiation of claims made on the “Allaboutbags” website.

2 Sustainability Report 2011, Canfor Pulp Products, page 10. Canfor has the following certifications: Forest Stewardship Council Controlled Wood and Chain of Custody; Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC); and the new EcoLogo Standard (CCD-003) for Renewable Electricity.

3 PPEC press release of August 14, 2012 (before the launch of CPIA’s website)


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John Mullinder

Executive Director Paper & Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council (PPEC)
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