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Being positive about paper

Being positive about paper

Confederation of Paper Industries

3 min read Partner content

The Confederation of Paper Industries is tackling the sector's image as a polluter.

"We do have a poor image, there is no doubt that, but it is very far from the truth."

David Workman, Director General of the Confederation of Paper Industries, aims to remedy that with new resources for schools that explain all about paper.

"People still see us as being one of those industries that is energy intensive, which pollutes the environment, chopping down trees to make packaging that no-one wants.

"In fact we are an industry that has invested a huge amount of money in recent years in new plants and machinery.

"We are a highly modern, innovative sector which has a very, very good environmental pedigree.

"We have reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions very significantly in the past 20 years - that has largely been on the back of investment that the paper companies have put into their facilities. It is a matter of trying to change this impression that people have, to look at it much more positively."

There are 55 paper mills in the UK, making either the pulp or making paper itself and the industry employs 25,000 people directly and another 75,000 in upstream and downstream operations.

"We have a lot of companies who are members of CPI who are in the corrugated board sector, making boxes, and we have a lot of people producing news print," explains Mr Workman.

A growing part of the industry is hygiene products such as tissues. Mr Workman wants young people to consider manufacturing as a career option, rather than putting it at the bottom of a list of options.

The PaperWorksresources, which are available online, provide UK teachers with a range of curriculum-linked learning resources.

Each provides useful background information about paper and some useful ready-to-go lesson plans with online presentations, videos and project work.

Mr Workman had the older teaching resources updated for the new generation.

"When I arrived at CPI a few years ago I took one look at it and thought it was so out of date and old fashioned and would not be able to engage with children," he explains.

"We decided we would update it we wanted to make it visually more appealing and make it compatible with modern teaching technology.

"We wanted to make it relevant to the current curriculum, so for the five to seven year olds we decided to make that applicable to art and design, for seven to 11 year olds it is technology and for 14 to 18 it applies to business studies."

Despite its poor image, paper is one of the great success stories of the ‘green society’.

"Of all the household waste materials paper is the most recycled of the lot – there is a recycle rate of 78% for newspapers," says Mr Workman.

"It is nearly 90% recycled on average for corrugated boxes - that is a real success story."

While the industry is keen to promote recycling, there are wider issues with the Government’s "green" plans for energy intensive industries.

Mr Workman says even BIS has issued a report with an international comparison that shows “beyond doubt that UK government policy is likely to increase energy costs, above the level even of Europe, against the rest of the world which is worrying".

"If we continue down the route we are currently going it is going to lead to British industry, especially energy intensive industry, becoming less competitive over the next 10 years rather than more competitive which is what we want to achieve in order to grow manufacturing in the UK."

And, CPI hopes, to provide jobs for the generation of children who might be encouraged to see manufacturing as an attractive career option.

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