COP26: Deforestation pledge

* 5 min read
What effect will the COP26 Deforestation deal have on the future supply of paper and cardboard within the packaging industry?

On the 2nd November 2021, 114 leaders at the COP26 in Glasgow took a landmark step forward at a convening of world leaders on forests by committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

How will this pledge hit the paper and cardboard industry that is still struggling with supply for various regional reasons as well as the ongoing worldwide Pandemic?

The ‘anti plastic’ campaigns have been at the forefront of all news reports and social media across the globe and have led to businesses investing time and money in designing alternative more sustainable and environmentally friendly products, some of which will be made from paper and cardboard and will be increasing the demand for paper supply. So, what effect will the Deforestation deal have on the future supply of paper and cardboard within the packaging industry?

Even in this digital age we live in, rarely a day goes by without each of us handling a product made from wood pulp. Disposable coffee cups, juice cartons, newspapers, magazines, domestic bills and packaging, to name just a few. We all understand now that the paper coffee cup cannot be recycled through the normal paper and cardboard recycle stream and we should all be aiming to use re-useable cups. We can all choose to go paperless with most domestic bills and read our favourite newspapers or magazines online. These changes can be actioned immediately and will play a part in reducing the requirement for wood pulp.

kirill slavetski CykPO pEvps unsplash

Image source: Unsplash - Kirill Slavetski 

We are already experiencing supply issues of paper and cardboard within the packaging industry even more so this year, mainly caused by the ongoing worldwide pandemic but also other regional reasons including Brexit. This pledge will naturally put further pressure onto the supply chain.

Will the pledge cover forests which are under the control and guardianship of the FSC and the PEFC? The stewardships together certifying less than 20% of the global forests. These forest certifications do not guarantee sustainability but provide a chain of custody. Time will tell what impact it will have on these controlled forests.

geran de klerk qzgN45hseN0 unsplash

Image source: Unsplash - Geran de Klerk 

I hope this large step forward will force a more robust and comprehensive solution to all countries improving their current recycling infrastructure for paper and cardboard waste, resulting in less virgin fibre requirement. This pledge could drive the volumes up and costs down for alternative materials that are already on the market but currently commercially not viable, for example, corn-starch, seaweed or mushroom alternatives.

I think this highlights the importance of reforestation. For us all to make every effort to start to repair the damage that we have already inflicted on our earth. It is achievable, it will take time to take effect, but we shouldn’t be put off by this. It is clearly obvious that we have been putting it off now for decades. Now is the time for action! We all need to understand that making the sustainable choice now is not just about avoiding items such as single use or other plastics, it also includes choosing products that can be reused, products that come from sustainable sourcing and manufacturing processes. Discerning the lies behind ‘greenwashing’ that we read every day in the press. We can all start to persuade businesses small and large that we will not accept the untruths anymore and we all expect action now. Sustainable forests are the way forward. Not only replacing trees that are cut down for industries with newly planted trees but also the practice of coppicing, when trees are cut down to ground level resulting in the regeneration of new stems from the base which in turn giving other trees in the same area more light and room to grow. These actions will not only help reduce our co2, but also improve the natural habitat that the wildlife depends on and transform the global approach to sustainable packaging.

Pioneering the right choices for you, your customers and our planet.


About the author

imageedit 1 6168940299Simon Furness – Structural Design

Simon has 30 years' experience in the packaging industry. As an experienced structural packaging designer, he has worked with major brands and retailers including Marks and Spencer, Target, Pier 1, Tesco, Remington and Russell Hobbs. Simon has extensive manufacturing experience across primary, secondary, tertiary and food packaging. He designs holistically with primary considerations being fit for purpose packaging, durability, optimization and sustainability. He has also worked closely with Asia, India and North American markets. Over the last 10 years, Simon has worked with clients to understand and recommend changes to their supply chain to improve and reduce damages and save cost.

What’s your experience? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.