back to all publications

Geographical Delimitation For Carbon Footprint Modeling In The Global Paper Industry

CSS Publication Number

Appropriate geographical delimitation in carbon footprints of paper is deeply challenging due to complexities of scale, largely a function of the number of actors and geographies involved in globalized commodity and energy networks. Concurrently, lifecycle assessments also face controversy over how to properly account for biogenic carbon, which increasingly demands inclusion of emissions due to direct and indirect land use change (e.g. biofuel production, timber harvest, livestock grazing, mining). The many life cycle assessment (LCA) models of paper, the principal building blocks behind product-level GHG emissions footprints, frequently avoid these challenges by narrowly delineating system boundaries. For example, the specific origin of wood fiber supplies, as well as forestry management practices are rarely traced and included in modeling efforts. With the introduction and proliferation of paper certification schemes, including chain of custody verification, lifecycle models may soon be pressed to better account for forest management. Through a partial comparative inventory model of energy sources and emissions for coated freesheet paper produced across the globalized paper industry, this paper reveals how complexities associated with geographic variation and land use change lead to widely divergent results. Using industry and trade data, the authors develop GIS transportation and energy models to map the globally dispersed pulp supply networks and rescale IPCC GHG inventory guidelines to include carbon loss associated with land use change in the carbon footprint of coated paper. The effort demonstrates that absent appropriate geographical delimitation and improved modeling of forest types and forestry practices in fiber supply chains, the carbon footprint is essentially indeterminate. The models the authors present suggest future directions for development of lifecycle assessments for paper that are more spatially explicit.

Robert O. Vos
Research Areas
Food Systems and Consumer Products
Consumer Products & Packaging
Publication Type
Conference Proceeding
Full Citation

Robert Vos and Josh Newell. “Geographical Delimitation For Carbon Footprint Modeling In The Global Paper Industry.” 6th International Conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) Proceedings. Berkeley, CA, June 7-10 2011, Abstract #810.