Is locally sourced always better? What sort of pace are commercial forests being felled at? This edition of our Spotlight feature comes courtesy of Holmen Iggesund, which gives its view on some of the most frequently asked paperboard packaging-related questions.


Paper-based materials are a part of our everyday lives. We meet paper in books, letters, packaging, and lots of sanitary applications. We live in a digital world and digital channels have rapidly increased their share of messaging, but despite that, you cannot go into a home or an office and not realise the importance of paper.

Holmen Iggesund produces paperboard for packaging purposes. Due to the race to abandon fossil-based materials the demand for paperboard packaging has increased. The number of questions regarding the environmental soundness of the production of these products has also increased, as well as questions regarding how forests are being managed. Wood harvested in the forest is the dominant raw material for paper and paperboard, so sustainably managed forests are crucial to Holmen Iggesund.

Johan Granås, Sustainability Director at Holmen Iggesund, wants to broaden the perspective on some of the most frequent questions he gets.

Is recycled paperboard better for the climate?

The recycling of all paper products is very important to make the best use of the wood raw material. Unfortunately, recycled paper is almost always made using fossil energy. Fresh fibre paperboard is however mainly made using bioenergy making its climate impact considerably lower.

Are Swedish forests being felled at a fast pace?

But they are growing up at an even faster pace. To make the transition to a renewable society we need to harvest wood. But we then need to safeguard replanting and care for the forest ecosystem so that also future generations can continue to use the forest resources as has been done so far. There is today twice as much forest in Sweden compared to 100 years ago.

Do we cut down trees to make paperboard?

Big trees are cut down to make construction wood for houses, furniture, and patios. We make paperboard products from the leftovers.

Is locally sourced always better?

If everything else is equal, sourcing locally is better because it reduces transport emissions. However, when it comes to packaging materials, transports are almost never the main factor for the climate impact. Instead, you need to look at the specific emissions from the product you are buying. It’s almost always better to source a low-impact product from far away than a locally sourced higher-emitting product. Almost always, the savings can be substantial despite the longer transports.

Does every package have to be made of recycled paperboard?

For some products, it makes sense to use recycled material but for other products where strength, pureness or quality consistency are more important, it is better to use fresh fibres. Consider all requirements when selecting your packaging material and include the whole value chain since recycled material does not always make the most sustainable and economic sense.