The Carbon cycle
« Carbon is the main constituent of paper ».
How does the carbon cycle work ?
As carbon cannot be destroyed, the total amount of carbon on earth remains constant. Carbon exchanges between the atmosphere, the biosphere (plants and animals) and the hydrosphere (oceans and aquatic organisms) naturally balance themselves out. However, every year, human activities emit some 7.5 Get of carbon in the atmosphere, half of which is reabsorbed by plants. Every year, the net emissions of CO2 amount to some 3.5 Get of carbon.
What is a carbon sink ?
A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and thus helps to reduce the amount of atmospheric CO2. The biggest carbon sink is the ocean which stores some 20 times more carbon than plants. But deforestation is a natural and anthropogenic phenomenon which reduces plant absorption of atmospheric carbon, thereby promoting the accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere.
How does paper contribute to the carbon cycle ?
Wood contains 50% carbon, absorbed during its growth phase through photosynthesis. The trees that are cut leave room for young trees which have a greater absorption rate than old forests. Wood essentially contains water, cellulose, lignin and minerals.
The cellulose fiber stemming from wood or cotton is the principal constituent of paper. Paper contains 27% carbon. In addition, carbon is emitted during production phases.
Did you know?
The European Union's Timber Regulation (EUTR) aims to eliminate illegally harvested timber and timber products from the common market. It has been in vigour since 3rd March 2013.
“CO2 emissions are naturally linked to extensive use of fossil energy, which we are striving to reduce by using natural gas instead of the usual fuel oil. To limit energy losses, we ensure the looping of our process, notably via the deployment of an improvement plan to reduce heat losses. This increases our reuse of the still under-exploited sources of energy in our process. “
Mr. Philippe Noblet, Technical Manager Canson® paper mills