Global Paper Vision

EPN Foto

Group photo of the EPN conference’s participants. Credit: Conference organiser




We share a common vision of a forest, pulp and paper industry that contributes to a clean, healthy, just and sustainable future for all life on earth. We seek a world with new consumption patterns that meet the needs of all people while eliminating waste and over-consumption, where paper production is less reliant on virgin fibre and not associated with loss of biodiversity or forests, maximises use of recycled materials, respects human rights including local people’s land rights, provides employment and has social impacts that are beneficial, conflict-free and fair. We seek the successful transition to pulp and paper that is part of the solution to climate change and is made from responsibly sourced fibres, using entirely low-carbon, renewable energy, with water that is as clean after paper production as before, producing zero waste and zero emissions. We seek full transparency and partnerships with diverse stakeholders to successfully implement this vision.
Priorities for transforming paper production, trade and use
We call upon the global paper industry, consumers, retailers, governments, investors and non-governmental organisations to commit to urgent actions encompassing the following priorities, addressing the entirety of the paper life-cyclei:

  • reduce global paper consumption and promote
  • fair access to paper;
  • maximise recycled fibre content;
  • ensure social responsibility;
  • source fibre responsibly;
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • ensure clean production;
  • ensure transparency and integrity.

1. Reduce Global Paper Consumption and Promote Fair Access to Paper

  • Encourage high utility, low volume paper use and find ways for people currently below the paper poverty lineii to share the benefits paper can bring.
  • Develop and promote creative and innovative systems, designs and technologies that reduce the consumption of fibre and maximise efficiency
  • Proactively work with consumers to educate them to eliminate unnecessary paper consumption.
  • Explore alternatives to paper, but understand and avoid negative impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, from plastic, digital, and other alternatives.

2. Maximise Recycled Fibre Content

  • Maximise recycled fibre content in all grades of paper and paper products, maximise post-consumer fibre content, and develop additional 100% recycled paper products.
  • Minimise waste by maximising reusability and recyclability in appropriate products.
  • Proactively support recycled paper manufacturing, including improved collection systems of recyclable paper.
  • Increase the use of other recovered materials (e.g., sustainably grown and harvested agricultural residues and post-industrial recycled) as fibre sources in paper.
  • Rarely manufacture paper solely from virgin tree fibre.
  • Maximise fibre efficiency through product design and lowering basis weights of paper, whenever possible.
  • Eliminate incentives that favour use of natural resources over reused or recycled resources or that favour disposal or incineration over recycling.

3. Ensure Social Responsibility

  • Recognise, respect and protect human rights, and comply with and proactively develop fundamental employment and social standardsiii and relevant international agreementsiv for the protection of human rights.
  • Ensure free, prior and informed consentv of local peoples and communities in the areas from which raw materials originate and where production takes place.
  • Recognise, respect and protect indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ legal and customary rights to control their traditional lands and protect their cultural identity.
  • Recognise, respect and protect local communities’ rights to a healthy environment, and rights to participation as a primary stakeholder in land-use planning.
  • Recognise, respect and protect workers’, including subcontractors’ workers’, rights to beneficial employment and a safe working environment.
  • Promote community-ownership, worker-ownership and the development of paper manufacturing facilities that are scaled appropriately for local communities, and a diversity of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the paper sector.
  • Respect and support local economies on the basis of a long-term social and environmental vision built with local communities and businesses.

4. Source Fibre Responsibly

  • End sourcing of fibre from unknown and illegal sources, suppliers or operations.
  • End the use of fibre from, and avoid suppliers associated with loss of, endangered forestsvi and high conservation value forests, ecosystems and habitats.
  • End the use of fibre from, and avoid suppliers associated with, conversion of natural forests or other high conservation value ecosystems into plantations for paper fibrevii.
  • End the use of fibre from, and avoid suppliers associated with, loss or degradation of peatlands6 and high carbon stock forests.
  • End the use of fibre, and avoid suppliers, associated with human or labor rights violations.
  • Source any virgin wood fibre for paper from forest managers that have credible, independent, third-party certification for employing the most environmentally and socially responsible forest management and restoration practices. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is currently the only international certification programme that comes close to meeting this goal.
  • Avoid sourcing from and promoting misleading and environmentally irresponsible forest certification programs.
  • Support the development and use of sustainably grown and harvested alternative crops for paper where credible analysis indicates that they are environmentally and socially preferable to other virgin fibre sources and do not lead to loss of necessary food crops or high conservation value ecosystems.
  • Eliminate use of toxic, bio-accumulative or persistent pesticides and herbicides in fibre production.
  • Refuse fibre from genetically modified organisms.
  • Replace ‘far’ with ‘near,’ using sustainably produced, locally-sourced fibre and minimising transportation wherever possible.

5. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Reduce total energy consumption and high emission energy sources.
  • Change from fossil fuels and other high emission energy sources, including from unsustainable biomass, to only responsibly-produced low-emission biomass and other renewable energy sources.
  • Reduce soil emissions, particularly from peatlands and other high carbon stock soils.
  • Maintain and enhance carbon storage in managed forests and other ecosystems.
  • Promote technological innovations and design production systems that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Apply greenhouse gas reduction goals and regular reporting which accurately accounts for the landscape and biogenic greenhouse gas emissions of paper production, including carbon debt.

6. Ensure Clean Production

  • Use the best possible technology to minimise the use of water, energy, chemicals and other raw materials.
  • Use the best possible technology to minimise solid waste, thermal pollution and emissions to air and water.
  • Eliminate toxic mill discharges and waste.
  • Eliminate the use of chlorine and chlorine compounds for bleaching.
  • Ensure production systems do not hinder equitable use of water, the quality of water or local food production. Nor should such systems jeopardise environmental services or ecosystem assets.

7. Ensure Transparency and Integrity

  • Develop binding policies and targets and commit to a time-bound process for achieving them.
  • Demonstrate and report on chains of custody for all paper and paper products and ensure all buyers have easy access to reliable information on fibre content, sustainability and production methods of individual paper and paper products.
  • Eliminate greenwashing, or the practice of misleading consumers with false environmental claims.
  • Ensure fair systems of economic rewards and liabilities that help reduce the impacts of pulp and paper production and use.
  • Refuse investment and participation in business transactions (e.g., financing and trading) that are not fully consistent with this Vision.
  • Commit to transparent, regular, publicly available and comprehensive reporting on progress.

Working Together
Towards Solutions
We, the undersigned, come together to support this Vision. We understand that achieving these goals may involve significant challenges and that further research is necessary on some issues. We also recognise the unique and complementary role that each company, organisation, government and individual plays in moving the paper industry towards social and environmental sustainability.
We collectively commit to:
develop collaboration/dialogue between NGOs, industry and other institutions;
encourage governments to develop legislative, fiscal and operational measures consistent with the vision;
encourage only responsible investment in the industry;
articulate and implement responsible procurement and purchasing guidance.
monitor the progress of all stakeholders towards this vision;
campaign to end socially and environmentally damaging activities by the pulp and paper industry;
We pledge to work together in support of this visionviii for a future where paper is truly sustainable and its benefits are enjoyed by all.
To endorse this Vision or request copies please contact
[email protected] or
EPN in North America –
EPN in Europe –
EPN in China –

i Life-cycle includes the entire production system including: fibre sourcing, pulping, production, transportation, use, multiple recycling and disposal.
ii The paper poverty line is 30kg/year, the level of paper use UNESCO states is necessary for education and democratic involvement in society.
iii ILO Fundamental Work Rights: freedom of association, the right to organise and to collective bargaining; the abolition of forced labour, the elimination of child labour; and the prohibition of discrimination in employment and occupation (equality of opportunity and treatment).
iv ILO Convention 169 for the Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, General Declaration of Human Rights (1948), UN Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (1966), International Agreement on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), International Agreement on Civil and Political Rights (1966), UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
v See the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the ‘Ruggie Report’ to the UN on Business and Human Rights, FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security and Forest Peoples Programme Guiding Principles (
vi Some forests are so rare, threatened or ecologically vulnerable, or are of such global biological or cultural importance that any logging or commercial use could irreparably damage their conservation value. See ‘Wye River’ discussion document for additional details, Ecological Components of Endangered Forests.
vii Ongoing conversion of forests must be avoided but some conversion may be allowed when it has been agreed within a comprehensive HCV, HCS and FPIC assessment process with transparent stakeholder involvement.

viii In order to prevent degradation, subsidence and fires, suppliers must a) avoid continued or new expansion into peatland areas; b) implement best peatland management practice including restoration and c) phase out of existing drainage-based pulpwood plantations on peatlands where this is resulting in unacceptable GHG emissions or soil subsidence, where this over time will cause flooding rendering the plantations unproductive.


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