Pulp and Paper sector is an energy and water intensive sector. The uniqueness of pulp and paper sector is that unlike the engineering or metal sector companies, pulp & paper sector is having an added advantage i.e. raw material of final product can be sustainably grown by the producer. This process is not possible for any other sector. Over 40% of global industrial wood harvest is used to make paper. Many companies strive to do plantation for meeting their raw material requirement, others source it from suppliers.
Impact on final cost of product is significant, if, raw material 'trees', are sourced from suppliers. Sustainability of the source of raw material (i.e. wood) also remain in question, thus the image of producer.
Carbon Sequestration and Carbon Cycle: As forests grow, CO2 is removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis. This CO2 is converted into organic carbon and stored in woody biomass and this is termed as Carbon Sequestration (in plants). Trees release the stored carbon when they die, decay, or are combusted, completing the carbon cycle. The carbon in biomass / wood will return to the atmosphere regardless of whether it is burned for energy, allowed to biodegrade, or lost in a forest fire. The net impact of these processes is that CO2 flows in and out of forests / organized plantations. Overall, the flow of forest CO2 is carbon positive when forests / plantations are sustainably managed (ICFPA Steering Committee, 20131).
Thus, the possibility to implement the 'carbon sequestration' (in trees) is a viable option to reduce GHG emissions as well as to source the raw material i.e. trees, sustainably which can solve dual can play a major role to reduce GHG emissions from atmosphere, simultaneously providing raw material sustainably.
Fact is that 'carbon neutrality' is not a challenging thought any more, for pulp & paper sector. It's a proven fact. Thus, company having their GHG inventory (baseline) and follow the continual development pathway, can achieve 'carbon neutrality' in defined time frame. The pulp and paper sector will need to be highly energy efficient and innovative in a future that is shaped by ambitious climate and energy policy goals1. Research on 'low emission technologies', 'process to make paper sector less water intensive', 'dry pulping technologies' and 'grow your own raw material' will shape the future of the sector.
1. Pulp and Paper Company growing their 'own raw material- trees' can produce in environment and cost efficient manner.
2. Trees sequester carbon thus paper companies have additional scope to achieve 'carbon neutrality'.
3. Few more initiatives like energy efficiency, renewable energy/ fuel switch etc may be required to achieve 'carbon neutral' status.
4. 'Carbon Accounting' i.e. GHG accounting and target setting for GHG emissions reduction are the necessary steps to assess the balance between carbon emissions/ annum and sequestration potential of the company.
5. Business models for raising plantations are viable and successful.
6. 'Carbon Neutrality' is not impossible. It is achievable by Pulp & Paper companies.