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13 Jul 07
China's recycling 'saves forests'
Yahoo News 13 Jul 07
Voracious China gobbles up forests, recycled paper
by P. Parameswaran
China's soaring demand for paper on the back of rapid economic growth is threatening forests, even as it ramps up recycling of wastepaper from developed nations, a study showed Friday.
The report by Washington-based Forest Trends, which conducts research on forestry trade issues, comes amid growing controversy over the influence of China's industry on the global market for paper and raw timber.
Environmentalists are concerned that China's paper industry, along with its similarly red-hot wood products industry, is rapidly drawing imports of logs and pulp regardless of whether they were from "legal and sustainable" forests.
"China is by far the worlds biggest consumer of wastepaper and that's a good thing because in the last four years alone, China has prevented 65 million metric tons of wastepaper from heading to landfills in the US, Japan, and Europe," said Brian Stafford, the lead author of the report.
For example, wastepaper is now one of the top US exports to China.
"Just last year, China's use of wastepaper instead of trees to make paper products probably saved 54 million metric tons of wood from being harvested for pulp," said Stafford, an expert on the international pulp and paper industry.
But as China's producers scramble to meet growing domestic and international demand for especially for higher quality paper, they continue to "source substantial amounts of wood and wood pulp from countries where good forest management cannot be assured," he warned.
The report pointed out that recycled material alone could not sustain China's paper production and that China's soaring demand for "virgin" pulpwood is a major threat to forests around the world.
The same explosive growth that's created such a strong market for wastepaper is also boosting China's demand for pulp and pulpwood derived from developing countries already struggling to contain illegal and destructive logging, it said.
"China is ramping up the production of largely high quality paper from pulp imports -- some of which is are from Russia and Indonesia -- because of rising demand from consumer countries, including the United States and Europe," said Luke Bailey, program associate with Forest Trends.
But the report highlighted the fact that about 60 percent of fiber used to manufacture paper and paper board products in China was derived from wastepaper.
In the last ten years China's wastepaper imports increased by more than 500 percent -- from 3.1 million tonnes in 1996 to 19.6 million tonnes in 2006 -- with most of that growth occurring between 2002 and 2006, it said.
"It's clear that the sheer volume of the wastepaper used in Chinese manufacturing has a very beneficial and stabilizing effect on the global market for wastepaper, which in turn makes wastepaper collection a viable 'green' option for communities in wealthy countries," said Kerstin Canby, director at Forest Trends.
As environmentalists worry about the effects on forests, American paper producers are nervously monitoring the market power of their Chinese counterparts, the report said.
US producers, claiming that government subsidies give their Chinese counterparts an unfair advantage in the world paper market, recently convinced the US Department of Commerce to place trade sanctions in the form of higher import duties on glossy paper manufactured in China.
BBC 13 Jul 07
China's recycling 'saves forests'
China's massive capacity to recycle waste-paper is preventing many forests around the world from being destroyed, a report has concluded.
The nation's paper industry imported almost 20 million tonnes in 2006, primarily from the US, Europe and Japan, according to NGO Forest Trends.
The group said about 60% of the fibre used in producing paper was recycled.
But it warned that timber from illegal logging was probably still being used to meet the surge in demand. "Just last year, China's use of waste-paper instead of trees to make paper products probably saved 54 million metric tons of wood being harvested for pulp," said Brian Stafford, the report's lead author.
Over the past decade, the study said, the nation's imports of waste-paper had increased five-fold, making it the world's biggest consumer of the material.
"In the last four years alone, China has prevented 65 million tonnes of waste-paper from heading to landfills in the US, Japan and Europe," Mr Stafford added.
But he warned that recycling was unlikely to meet the demand for raw materials from the rapidly expanding sector.
"Waste-paper can only provide so much fibre, and with huge new paper mills coming online in China, there is a legitimate concern that future growth in the industry is going to happen at the expense of already stressed natural forests in the tropics.
"The biggest environmental challenge... is to prevent demand for fibre from driving ever more forest destruction in places like Indonesia and eastern Russia," Mr Stafford warned.
The report called on producers to adopt systems to track pulp and pulpwood to ensure it came from "legal and sustainable" forests.
On Tuesday, China's Forestry Ministry published a draft handbook "sustainable forestry" for the nation's logging companies operating in other countries. The ministry said the booklet would "guide and standardize Chinese companies' sustainable forestry activities overseas", the Reuters news agency reported.
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