Three billion trees are cut down annually around the world to meet the demand for paper packaging. The pulp and paper industry is one of the world’s major polluters and one of the heaviest users of fresh water. It also consumes four per cent of the world’s energy and is chemically intensive, polluting rivers and harming ecosystems. Starkest of all – it leaves a trail of human suffering, as a result of the monoculture plantations that suffocate the communities living near them.

This report covers case studies from Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Chile and Indonesia which unveil the environmental and human cost of switching to paper-based packaging. You can read them here.

We document some of those stories – from devastating forest fires in Portugal, to intimidation and violence towards Indigenous Peoples in Chile. From Finland’s collapsing carbon sink, to Sweden’s monoculture tree plantations, and the ravaging of Indonesia’s carbon-rich peatlands.

This report is the result of a collaboration between EPN International and Fern. The EU is currently revising its Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, and we are calling for the revision to adopt strong measures to reduce single-use packaging of all materials and shift to re-use systems that reduce the impact of packaging on the natural environment and communities for the long-term. See here for NGO recommendations on how to do this.