A Fair Hearing for Paper

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Paper plays an important role in the SG World story. We use it to produce safety and compliance solutions such as visitor passes, inspection checklists and permits to work. As a specialist print and packaging provider, our sister company, The Printing House, has built its whole business model around paper and print.  As you would expect, we take our environmental footprint very seriously, using sustainable and recycled materials wherever possible, reducing waste and investing in energy-saving printing technology. However, as a medium, paper has been unfairly demonised as not being environmentally friendly when, in effect, paper is inherently sustainable and continues to be a practical and highly effective resource.

Wherever possible, SG World uses paper recognised under the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certification scheme, ensuring that virgin fibre only originates from sustainable sources.  Paper is highly recycled and in 2020 a total of 56 million tonnes of paper was collected and recycled in Europe – a recycling rate of 74%. For paper packaging, the recycling rate is even higher, with 83% of paper and cardboard packaging being recycled in Europe. Paper is the most recycled packaging material, followed by metal (80%), glass (75%) and plastic (42%). Of course, paper cannot be recycled indefinitely as the fibres get too short and worn out to be useful in creating a new sheet of paper. Furthermore, production cannot be based on 100% recycled fibre as 100% of consumption cannot be collected. The cycle must therefore be constantly refilled with new strong virgin fibres from sustainably managed forests which play an indispensable role in climate and biodiversity protection. Between 2005 and 2020, European forests grew by an area the size of Switzerland.

This doesn’t mean SG World doesn’t recognise there are benefits of moving to paperless systems of work, a movement no doubt accelerated by the widespread adoption of remote working during COVID. In fact, our evolving product range includes a family of cloud-based software modules, an area where we see great growth and opportunity. But we need to understand that going green does not necessarily mean going paperless because different approaches work for different customers, working environments, budgets and cultures. Remember, you can embrace paper and love the environment.

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