Published in Packaging
The advantages and strengths of the paper bag

After a successful launch in 2018, the European Paper Bag Day entered the second round on 18 October 2019 with many different activities and celebrations throughout Europe. The annual action day was initiated by the platform “The Paper Bag”(1), to celebrate paper bags as sustainable and functional packaging.
Facing the challenges of our era, such as climate change and scarcity of raw materials, we believe it is essential to make an informed choice, also when it comes of packaging.
And so, at Saccarta, we take the opportunity of the European Paper Bag to bring your attention to the advantages and strengths of the paper bag, on which we continue to invest since our foundation in 1948, trusting that it is the packaging of the future (as well as the past!).

The fibres used to produce sack kraft paper are 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable:
- Paper sacks contain up to 100% natural fibres.
- Due to research into bio-barriers, the proportion of renewable materials in paper sacks will increase. This supports our approach towards a circular economy as well as the goals of the COP21 agreement, which focuses on minimising the use of all kinds of fossil materials.
- Paper is 100% biodegradable: it degrades within 2-5 months, with no harm to environment
- Paper is 100% recyclable: sack kraft paper is an excellent source of fibre for the recycling industry. Its long, strong fibres can be recycled several times. The recycling rate in Europe is 72,3%.

Sustainable management of forest areas is a central element of the value chain for paper sacks:
- The fibres are extracted from tree thinning and from process waste from the timber industry and originate from sustainably managed forests in Europe.
- Forest areas amount to 215 million hectares in Europe: more than a third of Europe is covered by forests. Forest cover in Europe is growing by 1.4% per year (2). This is thanks to the continuous replantation of trees during harvesting. For each tree harvested, two more are planted.
- Sustainable forest management protects water courses, increases research in new species, protects biodiversity and looks after the welfare of forest industry workers.

Forests play a key role in the mitigation of carbon emissions, and consequently in climate change mitigation:
- Forests act as a carbon sink: 1 m3 of wood captures 1 t of carbon dioxide while emitting 0.7 t of oxygen. The average annual sequestration of carbon in European forest biomass reaches 719 million tonnes of CO2.  This offsets the fossil CO2 emissions generated annually by Germany (3). 
- The carbon stored is not released when the tree is cut, but rather remains in the forest’s products, such as wooden products and paper bags. One kilo of paper stores 1.3kilos of CO2 equivalents and this carbon sequestration time is extended when we recycle the paper.
- According to a study by ETH Zurich, worldwide afforestation is the most effective measure against climate change (4).

According to a study by RISE, paper sacks are clearly the favourable option when it comes to climate change (5): 
- The carbon footprint of paper cement sacks is 2.5 times smaller than that of PE FFS cement sacks.
- Paper cement sacks are also more energy efficient: almost 5 paper sacks can be produced with the fossil energy consumed to produce 1 plastic sack.
- The production of paper sacks uses a high degree of renewable energy sources.
- 18 times less fossil resources are used as raw material in the paper sack.

These are just some of the strengths of the paper bag from an environmental point of view, and the entire industry is working to further improve each of these parameters.
Here at Saccarta, in the same way, we try every day to make decisions to reduce our environmental impact.


(1) The “The Paper Bag” platform was founded in 2017 by the leading European kraft paper manufacturers and producers of paper bags. They dedicate themselves to promoting the advantages of paper packaging. “The Paper Bag” is steered by the organisations CEPI Eurokraft and EUROSAC.

(2) “State of Europe’s Forests 2015” – FOREST EUROPE, 2015

(3) According to Clean Energy Wire’s fact sheet “Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets, 2016”, Germany produces 9.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person per year. With 80 million inhabitants, the annual CO2 emissions amount to 736 million tonnes..

(4) The global tree restoration potential, Bastin JF, Finegold Y, Garcia C, Mollicone D, Rezende M, Routh D, Zohner CM, Crowther TW, pubblicato in Science, 5 luglio 2019

(5) ESG LCI Study, RISE, October 2017


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