“As we navigate towards the future, we as an industry will stand by the motto that theoretically everything that is based on fossil material today will be able to be based on fibre in the future.”
The European pulp and paper industry is one of the few mainstream industries who work with a raw material which is renewable, recyclable and fossil free. It is oftentimes overlooked that the pulp and paper industry is itself an entirely bio-based industry, despite this being the DNA of who we are writes Bernard de Galembert the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI’s) Bioeconomy and Innovation Director and co-founder of the European Bioeconomy Alliance (EUBA) in our latest expert view...
Last November’s European Paper Week was the occasion to demonstrate the industry’s innovative, bio-based potential. To mark its future-orientated theme ‘Sense the Future’, European Paper Week hosted the first ever European version of the Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Awards where eight shortlisted candidates were invited to demonstrate their fibre-based inventions. We also hosted a novel innovation ‘Paper Expo’ which exhibited multiple, innovative paper-based products that can be used for purposes as diverse as human cell culture, aircraft structures and renewable, bio-based alternatives to plastic bottles. What was exhibited however was just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the full innovative potential of the industry e.g. printed electronics on paper substrate, paper-based batteries, wood-based carbon fibre, hi-tech textile fibre, food additives (such as vanillin), biofuels, smart anti-counterfeiting packaging, etc.
With the industry’s bio-based ambitions in mind investment is high on our agenda. Last year we published a revised version of our 2050 ‘Investment Roadmap’ which outlined how the industry intends to increase its investment by an additional €44bn by 2050, €20bn of which will need to be invested in the production of innovative bio-based products, in order to make the transition towards a low carbon bioeconomy. It is also particularly important when it comes to our industry’s challenge to tackle climate change, where our vision is to reduce our fossil CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.
Our ‘Investment Roadmap’ also signals our intention to create 50% more added-value from the products we produce. For instance, when it comes to creating value from the production of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin industry’s potential is quite frankly enormous. We recognise, however, that this innovation does not happen in isolation and our mission now is to guarantee the right circumstances and to allow acceleration of this innovation from lab to market.
As we navigate towards the future, we as an industry will stand by the motto that theoretically everything that is based on fossil material today will be able to be based on fibre in the future. This is challenge we have set for ourselves and one which we intend to meet.
About the author: Bernard de Galembert is the CEPI’s Bioeconomy and Innovation Director and co-founder of the European Bioeconomy Alliance (EUBA). In parallel he is also actively involved in the global forest and paper associations the ICFPA (International Council of Forest and Paper Associations).
The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) is the pan-European association representing the forest fibre and paper industry. Through its 18 national associations CEPI gathers 495 companies operating more than 900 pulp and paper mills across Europe producing paper, cardboard, pulp and other bio-based products. CEPI represents 22% of world production, €81 billion of annual turnover to the European economy and directly employs over 175,000 people.
From forest fibre technology to advance paper design the industry currently invests 3.5 billion annually and is a leader of the low carbon circular bioeconomy transition. CEPI’s 2050 ‘Investment Roadmap’ outlines the industry’s vision to advance this transformation in Europe through value creation and decarbonisation.
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