Forum Ökologie Papier (FÖP) is based in Germany and a proud member of the Environmental Paper Network (EPN). This non-governmental organisation (NGO) is an association of paper experts which are committed to achieve a significant reduction in paper consumption. EPN reached out to FÖPs Evelyn Schönheit and Jupp Traut

Tell us how you got started with NGO-work?
It was at the end of the 70s that a factory in Switzerland was the first in Europe to produce recycled office and writing paper, before that time waste paper went only into cardboard and newspaper. Wishing to open the German market for these promising graphic papers and to deliver the necessary background information on a scientific basis for large and end consumers, a hand full of people founded FÖP in the beginning of the 80s. Forum Ökologie & Paper works as a coalition of experts promoting a paper cycle that respects planetary boundaries in all their forms.

What can you tell us about your Organisation?
Our top priority is to significantly reduce paper consumption and to establish clever multipath solutions like the memo Box (Reusable shipping system of the German mail order company memo). Secondly, we seek the shift to much more recycled paper especially for hygiene and graphic uses, including the proper collection of precious waste paper fibres. We edit reports and teaching material, give workshops for target groups like public procurement staff or teachers and inform consumers, multipliers, media and politicians, on why conscious paper use is so fundamental for the protection of biodiversity and climate.

What are the main challenges for the forests in your country?
The kind of management putting focus on profits instead of ecosystem benefits: The pressure on forests is much too high, growing further because of the excruciating amount of wood harvested for burning in biomass electricity plants. About half of the harvest in Germany goes to incineration, CO2 is emitted immediately whereas trees need decades to regrow. Much more forest should be left alone to strengthen biodiversity and resilience facing the already terrible damages of climate crisis. Dead wood and other biomass should be accumulated – not eliminated – for shadow, water storing, browsing protection etc.

What are the most important steps towards a pulp and paper industry that is environment sustainable and social just?
Support native, structurally rich forests with consequent protection of primary forests, transform plantations into sustainably managed forests, accepting only the most ambitious certification schemes and guaranteeing full transparency of origin of all paper woods. Enormously important is the strict respect of human and land rights in countries of pulp origin like Brazil or Indonesia. For ensuring ecological and social compatibility a reduction in paper consumption and production is essential – as in most other economic sectors. To make it simple: Germany consumes three planets every year, so let us cut down consumption accordingly, it’s overdue.

And how does your Organization respond to this?
By information, spreading the word, applying to decision makers, networking.

Your Organization is a member of EPN. Why is that?
Because together we can change the world!

Visit their website to learn more about Forum Ökologie Papier