The Impact of Paper IFU

One of the key drivers at dokspot is to help Medical Device Manufacturers minimise the impact they have on the environment. Every year over 200,000 tons of paper are used in the production of paper instructions for use. This report details the implications this has on our planet.

5 million trees

Wood use measures the amount of wood required to produce a given amount of paper. The methodology does not include the forest residues left behind during pulpwood harvest in the forests (i.e., slash, roots). If forest residues were included it could be twice the number, as roughly 50% of biomass is left after harvest.

1,650,000 million watts

All the energy required over the paper’s life cycle, including all renewable and nonrenewable resource use, including black liquor and all wood sources. That is equivalent to 7 million residential refrigerators.

1,800,000,000 kilograms CO2

Greenhouse gases impacts measures carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels, methane from paper decomposing in landfills and short-lived climate pollutants (such as black carbon and organic carbon). This is the equivalent of 360,000 cars.

17,870,000,000 litres of water

The amount of process and cooling water that is consumed or degraded throughout the life cycle of the paper product. Equivalent to 3,400,000 clothes washers.

120,000,000 kilograms solid waste

Solid waste measures sludge and other wastes generated during pulp and paper manufacturing, and used paper disposed of in landfills and incinerators. Thats equivalent to 59,300,000 people generating solid waste/day.

Additional environmental impacts

Nitrogen oxides

Nitrogen oxides/ground level ozone (NOx , which includes NO and NO2 ) measures products of the combustion of fuels that contain nitrogen. NOx can react with volatile organic compounds and sunlight in the lower atmosphere to form ozone, a key component of urban smog. NOx forms ozone and can also, in parallel, lead to acid rain.

Instructions for Use produces 216,000,000 persons x hrs. x pounds O3 equiv/m 3 , equivalent to 274,000 gasoline powered passenger cars/year.


Particulates/PM2.5 impacts measures the effect of particulate matter (PM) emissions from pulp/paper production, contributing to smog. Particulates are small airborne particles generated during combustion, and pose a range of health risks, including asthma and other respiratory problems, when inhaled.

Instructions for Use produce 70,400,000 persons x hrs. x pounds PM2.5 equiv/m3 , equivalent to 2,660,000 gasoline powered passenger cars/year.

Purchased energy

Purchased energy is a subset of total energy, and measures how much energy comes from purchased electricity and other fuels.

Instructions for Use use 3,200,000 million BTUs, equivalent to 3,810,000 residential refrigerators operated/year.

Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and other acidifying emissions/regional acidification measures chemical compounds such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other acids (e.g. ammonia) that are produced when boilers burn fuel containing sulfur and other acid-producing substances. Of the fuels used in the paper industry, oil and coal generally contain the highest quantities of sulfur. These acidifying emissions contribute to air pollution problems like acid rain and smog. This category includes SO2 emissions, but also other acids and emissions like NOx.

Instructions for Use produces 1,810,000 pounds SO2 equiv., equivalent to 587,000 eighteen-wheelers/year

Volatile organic compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) measure a broad class of organic gases, such as vapors from solvent and gasoline. VOCs react with nitrogen oxides (NOx ) in the atmosphere to form ground-level ozone, the major component of smog and a severe lung irritant.

Instructions for Use produce 14,600 kg, equivalent to 215,000,000 km driven in a car/year.

Total reduced sulfur

Total reduced sulfur (TRS) measures emissions of the compounds that cause the odor associated with kraft pulp mills. Exposure to TRS emissions has been linked to symptoms including headaches, watery eyes, nasal problems, and breathing difficulties.

Instructions for Use produce 12,400 kg.

Hazardous air pollutants

Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) measures any of a group of 188 substances identified in the 1990 U.S. Clean Air Act amendments because of their toxicity. Two of the most common occurring in air are formaldehyde and acrolein.

Instructions for Use produces 160,000 kg, equivalent to 70,400 passenger cars/year.

Chemical oxygen demand

Chemical oxygen demand (COD) measures the amount of oxidizable organic matter in the mill’s effluent. Since wastewater treatment removes most of the organic material that would be degraded naturally in the receiving waters, the COD of the final effluent provides information about the quantity of more persistent substances discharged into the receiving water.

Instructions for Use produces 1,900,000 kg COD, equivalent to 25,500 homes/year.

Biochemical oxygen demand

Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) measures the amount of oxygen that microorganisms consume to degrade the organic material in the wastewater. Discharging wastewater with high levels of BOD can result in oxygen depletion in the receiving waters, which can adversely affect fish and other organisms.

Instructions for Use produce 900,000 kg BOD, equivalent to 10,800 homes/year

Total Suspended Solids

Total Suspended Solids (TSS)/Freshwater eutrophication measures solid materials suspended in mill effluent, which can adversely affect bottom-living organisms upon settling in receiving waters and can carry toxic heavy metals and organic compounds into the environment.

Instructions for Use produces 1,700,000 kg TSS, equivalent to 18,400 homes/year.

Forest disturbance

Forest disturbance measures the impact of paper production on forest ecosystems and biodiversity. The indicator compares the ecosystem integrity of a harvested site to intact forests over 80 years old in the region, using on-the-ground measurements. It also considers the recovery potential which would be possible on the site if harvesting were halted, reflecting the long-term implication of forest management at suppressing ecosystem integrity.

Instructions for Use disturbs 82,000 acres, equivalent to the size of 62,100 football fields.

Threatened species

Threatened species measures the possible number of species affected by logging for paper production in the North American region that are listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, though the exact impact will vary by forest of origin. The number of species is based on correlation with logging threats assessed by IUCN and the fiber basket of pulp and paper mills in the region.

Instructions for Use impact 9 species.

Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification measures increased ocean acidity caused by CO2 , which has detrimental consequences for many marine organisms. This indicator considers CO2 emitted during the production of pulp and paper, but also evaluates the amount of CO2 that could be sequestered in trees if forest harvests used for papermaking were halted.

Instructions for Use produce 300,000,000 pounds H2CO3 , equivalent to 170,000 cars/year

Mercury emissions

Mercury emissions measure the amount of emissions during the production of pulp and paper. Mercury is a very toxic substance that persists in the environment for long periods of time. Emissions can therefore lead to contamination in the environment, including freshwater bodies and oceanic systems, subsequently exposing flora and fauna to elevated concentrations.

Instructions for Use produce 8,000,000 milligrams, equivalent to 2,000,000 compact fluorescent lights.

Dioxin emissions

Dioxin emissions measure the amount of dioxin emissions that are released to air and water from pulp and paper mills. Dioxins are persistent and bioaccumulative, and even small amounts of emission can contaminate local waterways and bioaccumulate in fish.

Instructions for Use produce 705,000,000 micrograms.

Freshwater distubance

Freshwater disturbance measures the number of freshwater systems possibly affected by logging. Logging can impact streams, rivers and creeks by increasing erosion, removing riverside vegetation and removing large woody debris that many fish species require for habitat. Although this impact is important and relevant, no data is currently available to calculate results. Reflecting the critical nature of this impact category, it is reported here as relevant to pulp/paper production, although results cannot be evaluated at this time.


Herbicides measures the amount of toxic herbicides used in growing trees for paper production. Herbicides are applied to control the spread of non-desirable species. Although this impact is important and relevant, no data is currently available to calculate results. Reflecting the critical nature of this impact category, it is reported as relevant to pulp/paper production, although results cannot be evaluated at this time.

Ocean warming

Ocean warming measures increased ocean temperatures linked to emissions of greenhouse gases. Although this impact is important and relevant to emissions and foregone growth from logging, no algorithm is currently available to calculate results. Reflecting the critical nature of this impact category, it is reported as relevant to pulp/paper production, although results cannot be evaluated at this time.

Wetland disturbance

Wetland disturbance measures the acreage of wetlands possibly affected by logging. Logging can increase erosion, which will cause changes in the sediment, temperature and other characteristics of wetlands. Although this impact is important and relevant, no data is currently available to calculate results. Reflecting the critical nature of this impact category, it is reported as relevant to pulp/paper production, although results cannot be evaluated at this time.

Calculated using Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator.


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