Environmental assessment of paper and cardboard for lifecycle-based waste policy

At the request of the Netherlands Environment Ministry, VROM, an analysis has been made of the lifecycle environmental impact of Dutch consumption of paper and cardboard, deriving from both domestic output and imported materials. Because a relatively large fraction of waste paper is collected in the Netherlands, the raw materials impact of the supply chain is relatively low, as a substantial share of the materials are recovered and then recycled. The overall environmental impact of paper and cardboard consumption per capita is equivalent to that of a little over 1,250 car-kilometres a year.

This “baseline assessment” was carried out to support the Dutch government’s new lifecycle-based waste strategy, as set out in the Second National Waste Management Programme (LAP2). A ballpark figure of 20% reduction of lifecycle environmental impact has been set for the year 2015. Three specific policy measures were analysed which together have a savings potential of 8%. The savings relate among other things to efficiency improvements at printing shops, including reduction of waste paper in this link of the chain, and use of alternative fibre feedstocks.