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ASPAPEL publishes its new Report on Paper Sustainability in Spain

Download the report here



Spanish industry makes a commitment to decarbonized bicircularity


The Paper Sustainability Report in Spain published by ASPAPEL (the Spanish Association of Pulp, Paper and Board Manufacturers), in the words of the association’s chair, Elisabet Alier, “reflects the Spanish paper sector’s commitment to the circular economy and decarbonization, a road marked by achievements and opportunities such as the use of locally-produced, renewable and carbon-neutral raw materials; very high recycling rates, and having achieved the decoupling of carbon emissions from production growth, as well as the growing process of material substitution in which paper plays a leading role as an alternative to non-renewable and non-biodegradable products”.
Energy efficiency measures, the use of biomass as fuel and cogeneration are the three pillars of the sector’s strategy in Spain in terms of reducing emissions. Using this strategy, total CO2 emissions have reduced by 25% since 2011 and those of SOx and NOx by 86% and 52%, respectively.
Today, the paper sector is the largest industrial producer and consumer of biomass in Spain. Biomass currently accounts for 34% of the total amount of fuel used and natural gas 64%.
The Spanish pulp and paper industry is electro-intensive and heat-intensive and produces most of the thermal and electrical energy it needs in cogeneration plants located next to its factories, with an installed capacity of 876 MW. Cogeneration produces both electricity and usable heat in the form of steam, optimising the use of fuel, thereby saving primary energy (a saving of over 10%) and reducing emissions.
Throughout this decade, cogeneration with hydrogen could be a reality. Progress is being made in the development of engines and turbines suitable for hydrogen consumption. This means that the future of ecogeneration will be mainly conditioned to the development of green hydrogen generation and the adaptation of the existing natural gas transportation and distribution networks.
The strategic investment plan for the next three years in the Spanish paper industry, recently presented as a proposal for a Project Driving Industrial Competitiveness and Sustainability within the framework of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, includes projects aimed at replacing gas and fossil fuels with renewable fuels and green hydrogen in cogeneration (ecogeneration), the incorporation of biogas and green hydrogen as fuels with a zero net impact to cover the demand for thermal energy in the production of pulp and paper, and the integration of electricity generation facilities that use renewable sources (photovoltaic, biomass, renewable waste, etc.).
Paper bicircularity combines the natural circularity resulting from the renewable nature of the raw material, wood for paper grown in local plantations, and the social circularity of the mass recycling of paper products.
5.3 millionm3 of wood are used in Spain to produce pulp for paper. 97% of this wood comes from local pine and eucalyptus plantations and the remaining 3% is from plantations in other European Union countries.
In addition, a high and growing percentage of wood has sustainable forest management certification (FSC and/or PEFC): the certified wood consumed by the sector in Spain amounts to 61%. The entire supply of wood for the sector in Spain is controlled, as it comes only from the European Union. 100% of the pulp mills and pulp suppliers, 92% of the sector’s wood suppliers and 62% of the paper mills are certified. As regards products, 60% of the cellulose consumed by the sector in Spain and 62% of the paper placed on the market is certified.
The 480,122 hectares of wood plantations used for paper in Spain are largeCO2 sinks that contribute to mitigating climate change, fixing 47 million tons ofCO2 equivalent. As far as employment is concerned, the 480,122 hectares of wood plantations used for paper provide over 21,000 jobs that ensure people stay in sparsely populated areas of Spain.
Closing the paper cycle, every year Spanish paper mills recycle 5.1 million tons of used paper. The recycling rate (paper that is recycled as raw material in paper mills over the total consumption of paper and cardboard) stands at 78%, demonstrating high recycling capacity (the second European country that does most recycling after Germany) that guarantees that all paper collected separately and in accordance with European quality standards will be recycled in Spain.
A distinguishing feature of the Spanish paper industry is the use of local raw materials. With regard to paper for recycling, 71% of the used paper recycled by paper mills located in Spain is collected here and the rest comes mainly from France and Portugal.
In Spain we collect 4.4 million tons of paper and cardboard for recycling. This collection volume is equivalent to 44 large football stadiums filled to the brim with paper and cardboard.


ASPAPEL Press Office (Asociación Española de Fabricantes de Pasta, Papel y Cartón):

Information and Image | Paseo de la Castellana, 140  |609904877    915616826
Contact persons: Ángeles Álvarez| Email: aalvarez [at] informacioneimagen [dot] es
Eva de Santos | Email: evadesantos [at] informacioneimagen [dot] es