On average, a carton is composed of 75% paperboard and ACE members are committed to using wood fibre that is sourced from responsibly-managed forests where trees grow without depletion of natural resources. In this way the wood fibre is a renewable resource.
The trees used to produce the paperboard are mainly those native to the Nordic countries: spruce, pine and birch. They are chosen for the strength and length of their fibres. Eucalyptus might also be used as it too has strong fibres.
Most of the wood fibre for European beverage cartons originates from Finland and Sweden. The remaining wood fibre comes from the Baltics, Russia, South America and other European countries including the Norway, Germany, and in very small amounts, the UK and Denmark.
Using wood fibre from the Nordic forests as a raw material has a positive environmental outcome as forest volume is actually increasing year on year: annual growth exceeds annual cuttings.
Today, only 75% of the annual wood increment is harvested. Typically three to five new trees are planted in the Swedish and Finnish forests, or grow naturally, for every tree harvested – two to four of these are cut down/harvested after 25 years during clearing and thinning of the forest, and one is left to grow to full maturity at 75 years before being harvested.
Thanks to the foresters employing responsible management practices, trees that are harvested are replaced fully, both by the planting of young saplings and through natural regeneration.
Although one tree can produce over a thousand beverage cartons, this actually accounts for only a small percentage of the wood. Once a tree is harvested, every part of the log is used – even the sawdust.
The paperboard in all beverage cartons produced in Europe by ACE members is traceable to acceptable and legal sources of wood, and the beverage carton manufacturers committed to have this extended globally by 2015.
The beverage carton industry also recognises the importance of protecting biodiversity, as forests are a valuable resource, both in sustaining a healthy balance to the earth's atmosphere, and in protecting the wildlife which inhabits it.
Respecting and upholding the ecosystem of the forest is critical both for the survival of the forest and the beverage carton industry. This means supporting the protection of fauna and flora, as well as having strict traceability criteria for the supply of wood used in beverage cartons.
Forests play a major role in conserving the richness of natural species. Sweden and Finland, from where most of the raw materials for beverage cartons are sourced, are home to all four of the large European predators – bear, wolf, wolverine and lynx - whose total number has increased in recent years. The moose, which has benefited from forestry and hunting regulations, is now to be found in large numbers in Nordic forests after being under threat at the beginning of the last century.
The forest management principles are based on local forest management experience, legal requirements and standards set by forest certification schemes. They also respond to the specific habitat and species protection requirements laid down in the European and national legislation.
'Site-adapted forestry' is one of the most effective ways to implement these principles on the ground. It involves mapping of sensitive biotopes and places responsibility for habitat regeneration plans on those who harvest the forests.