Pulp and Paper

Paper is a commonly used product worldwide. Globally, over 400 million tons of paper and paperboard were produced in 2022.

Jan 26th, 2024

Recovered paper and wood pulp are the main raw materials used to produce paper and paperboard (FAO, 2018). 

Sector Overview

The Pulp and Paper sector in the ecoinvent database includes roughly 200 datasets covering the whole supply chain from initial production of pulp to the manufacturing of the different paper and paperboard products, and, finally, the end-of-life treatment of wastepaper and waste paperboard. Geographies covered in the pulp and paper industry are Canada, Québec (CA-QC), Europe (RER), Latin America and the Caribbean (RLA), Switzerland (CH), and the United States (US). 

The ecoinvent database contains datasets on the various activities within the Pulp and Paper sector. These include the production of chemical and mechanical pulp from virgin fibers as well as production of pulp from recovered paper; production of various graphical paper such as lightweight coated paper, supercalendered paper, newsprint paper, and coated and uncoated paper; production of packaging paper such as kraft paper and paper sack; production of carton board such as folding boxboard carton, white lined chipboard carton, solid bleached and unbleached board carton; production of liquid packaging board; production of containerboard and corrugated board box. 

Sector Highlights 


The ecoinvent database contains datasets covering the production of pulp from virgin fibers and from recovered paper. Data is available on the production of chemical pulp (sulfate pulp and sulfite pulp), mechanical pulp (chemi-thermomechanical pulp, thermo-mechanical pulp, and stone groundwood pulp), and deinked pulp. Sulfate pulp production datasets are further distinguished based on the type of product (bleached and unbleached pulp) and on the type of pulpwood used (softwood, hardwood, eucalyptus). Datasets on sulfate pulp produced in Europe (RER) and Latin America and the Caribbean (RLA) are based on primary data collected by the European Pulp Industry Sector Association (EPIS). 

ecoinvent datasets on pulp production, depending on its type, contain information on various processes such as transport of the pulpwood, wood handling, pulping (mechanical or chemical), bleaching (where applicable), drying, on-site energy production, internal wastewater treatment, the recovery cycles of chemicals (where applicable), as well as use of water, external energy, and infrastructure. 

Further, information on the production of pulpwood is included in the Forestry and Wood sector. Data for the treatment of waste products resulting from the pulp and paper production such as sludge, ashes, and green liquor dregs are found in the Waste Management and Recycling sector.


The sector provides data on the production of different types of graphical paper, tissue paper (virgin and recycled), kraft paper, and paper sacks. In the category of graphical paper, the sector includes datasets on wood-containing paper (lightweight coated and supercalendered paper), coated wood-free paper, uncoated wood-free paper (virgin and recycled), and newsprint paper (virgin and recycled). Datasets on the integrated and non-integrated production of wood-free paper are also contained. In addition, the database includes data on offset printing and on the production of the printing ink used in this process. 

The sector further includes data on kraft paper production at integrated and semi-integrated mills and on paper sack production. These are based on primary data from studies by CEPI Eurokraft and Eurosac. 

Data on the treatment of wastepaper are included in the Waste Management and Recycling sector.


The sector contains data covering the manufacturing of containerboard which is the umbrella term for two different types of board, i.e., linerboard and fluting medium. Linerboard and fluting medium are both required to produce corrugated board. Data on the conversion of corrugated board into board boxes are also included in the sector. 

European datasets on the production of containerboard and corrugated board boxes are based on primary data from the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO) and Cepi ContainerBoard (CCB). US data on the production on containerboard and corrugated board box were provided by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI). 

In addition, data representing the production of several types of carton board, namely folding boxboard carton, solid bleached and unbleached carton, and white lined chipboard carton are included in the sector. European data for these products were provided by Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers, and the European Carton Makers Association (ECMA). 

Additionally, the sector includes activities representing the European production of liquid packaging board as well as the conversion of the boards into LPB containers. Data on the of liquid packaging board was collected by The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE). 

Data related to the treatment of waste paperboard are included in the Waste Management and Recycling sector.


The ecoinvent database contains various global-level datasets pertaining to the infrastructure of the Pulp and Paper sector, including facilities (pulp factory, integrated and non-integrated paper mill, waste paper sorting facility) and machinery (paper machine, laser colour jet printer, laser black/white jet printer). 

Data Providers 

ecoinvent Data originates from different sources. Notable providers of LCI datasets on pulp and paper activities include, but are not limited to: 


  • Caroline Gaudreault (Main Editor), NCASI, Montreal, Canada 
  • Michael Sturges (Co-Editor), RISE, Sweden 

Relevant Sources 

CEPI, (2019). Key statistics 2019 – European pulp & paper industry, https://www.cepi.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Final-Key-Statistics-2019.pdf, last accessed October 2023.

European Commission, (2015). Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document for the Production of Pulp, Paper and Board, https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC9567, last accessed October 2023.

FEFCO, (2021). European Database for Corrugated Board Life Cycle Studies, https://www.fefco.org/sites/default/files/documents/2022/FEFCO_LCA_2022.pdf, last accessed October 2023.

Hischier, R., (2007). Life Cycle Inventories of Packaging and Graphical Paper. Final report ecoinvent data v2.0 No. 11. Dübendorf, CH: Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories. Available in the report section of ecoQuery v2.

NCASI, (2017). 2014 Life Cycle Assessment of U.S. Average Corrugated Product, https://cccabox.org/pdfs/NCASI2014ExecutiveSummary_LCA_Final.pdf, last accessed October 2023.