Pulp and paper companies acquire huge tracks of land for timber... and operate large mills to turn that timber into paper. Unfortunately, land acquisition can violate the rights of indigenous peoples and rural populations and paper mills can pollute their local communities.
Land Rights Violations
Paper and pulp companies often gain access to land without the full and informed consent of local communities or indigenous peoples that live on the land. Indigenous peoples, including the Haida and the Grassy Narrows First Na-tion in Canada, the Penan in Malaysia, the Udege in Russia, the Sami in Finland and the Maori in New Zealand are all struggling to fight abuses by the paper and pulp industry. Some of the most egregious land violations are taking place in Indonesia where villagers have been forced off their land and their resistance movements have been violently repressed by the government.
The process of paper production uses toxic chemicals for pulping and bleach-ing paper. Unfortunately these processes release toxic pollutants into the environment and harm the well being of paper company workers and people downstream from the mills.
The Community-Protection Solution: Recycled Paper
Recycled paper relies on post-consumer and post-industrial fiber, not fresh trees. By choosing recycled paper, you avoid some of the negative social impacts associated with illegal and unethical land acquisition by paper and pulp companies. Ton for ton, virgin paper production discharges thousands of gallons more waste water than producing recycled paper. Also, producing recycled paper requires far less bleaching than producing paper from fresh trees, which means that fewer toxic chlorine-based chemicals get emitted into the environment.