• Home
  • Pulp and Paper

Pulp and Paper

The pulp and paper sector is a significant energy user and currently ranks fourth in the industrial sector for its energy use. In 2006, the sector consumed 6.7 EJ of energy, which represents 6% of global industrial energy use. Despite high energy use, the sector has a low CO2 intensity due to extensive use of biomass as fuel (in 2006, the emissions of the sector reached 184 Mt, representing only 3% of global emissions in 2006).The total energy saving potential in the sector through improved process efficiency and systems/life cycle improvements has been estimated to be in the range of 2.1-2.4 EJ/year.2

The processes used to produce pulp and to dry paper are the major energy consumers in the industry. The main production facilities are either pulp mills or integrated paper and pulp mills. Integrated mills have better energy efficiency. 

Kraft pulping is the most extensively used chemical pulping process. It produces high-quality fibers for higher paper grades. However, it requires large amounts of heat energy and has a low fiber yield. Kraft mills are able to meet most or all of their energy needs from by-products (i.e. black liquor) and they can even be a net exporter of energy. Similarly, sulfite pulping, which is used for speciality papers, has a high energy consumption but can self-generate a large part of a mill's energy needs from by-products. 

Mechanical pulping produces weaker fibers but it has a high yield, giving it a lower specific final energy demand. Higher efficiencies are enabled by applications such as thermo-mechanical pulping, where heat is recovered at diffent grades. However, as electricity is the main energy used, this technology may have high primary energy demand and CO2 emissions.

Pulp production from recovered fibers requires substantially less energy compared to virgin pulp (the BAT values for recovered fiber is 0.7-3 GJ/t compared to around 14.3 GJ/t for Kraft pulping).1 It is a promising option for reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions, with estimates projected to be as high as 35%. However, the availability of recovered paper is sometimes limited and resolving this issue will require changes to other parts of the paper production lifecycle.

The amount of energy used by paper machines is generally dependent on the pulp quality and paper grade, and it can show big variations. Integrated mills can achieve higher energy efficiency by eliminating intermediate pulp drying and using better processes.

Application of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) can significantly enhance the energy efficiency of pulp and paper industry. The CHP potential in the paper and pulp industry is estimated to be in the range of 0.3-0.6 EJ/year. Typically, the introduction of CHP can result in fuel savings of about 10-20% and energy savings of 30% compared to traditional technologies.2,5

The IEA believes black-liquor gasification and bio-refinery concepts, advanced paper-drying techniques, increased paper recycling, and carbon capture and storage will play a key role in reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions in industry.4

Pulp and PaperSchematic

Dry debarking craddle debarking belt conveyors automatic chip handling chip conditioning bar type chip screens Raw material all measures chemical pulping chemical pulping all measures continuous digester batch digester modifications use of pulping aids digester heat recovery optimized dilution factor Directed green liquor pulping chemical recovery chemical recovery small rectangle Chemical recovery all options BL solids concentration high efficiency boiler lime kiln chp in chemcal recovery black liquor gasification bleaching Bleaching all measures improved brownstock washing bleach effluent heat recovery washing press Cl2 preheating recoverd fiber pulping recovered fiber pulp all measures inreased use of recovered fiber drum pulper de-inking heat recovery fiber refractionation electrohydraulic residue incineration paper making shoe extended nip paper machine vacuum system gap forming advanced dryer controls waste heat reocvery in paper machine condebelt air impingement impulse drying advanced fibrous all measures papermaking mechanical pulping mechanical all heat recovery in tmp refiner improvements thermopulping pressurized groundwood rts pulping biotreatment repulping continuous repulping repulping rotors combined heat and power pinch analysis High Efficiency Motors Efficiency and Optimization of Pumps and Pump Systems fan systems Optimization of Compressed Air Systems adjustable speed drives

Pulp and Paper Publications

Breakthrough Technologies for Pulp and Paper Industry - Final Report from CEPI's Two Team Project

This final report from the Two Team Project, an initiative of the Confederation for European Paper Industry (CEPI), identifies eight breakthrough technologies that can significantly reduce CO2emissions in European pulp and paper industry while also significantly improving value.

Emerging Energy-Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Technologies for the Pulp and Paper Industry

This report describes the processes in pulp and paper industry and compiles available information on the energy savings, environmental and other benefits, costs, commercialization status, and references for 36 emerging technologies to reduce the industry’s energy use and GHG emissions.

Pulp and Paper Reference Documents

Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document for the Production of Pulp, Paper and Board - Draft

This reference document provides information on Best Available Technologies (BATs) applicable to the production of pulp, paper and paper board for the reduction of environmental impacts of the sector. The document provides detailed descriptions of applicable technologies along with performance and cost figures. The document is a guiding element of the EU's Industrial Emissions Directive (former Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive)

A typical mill usually produces several types of pulp or paper, and uses various wood species and different mixes of fiber raw material. Although the specific energy consumption of different product types can be known, the total annual consumption usually fluctuates depending on the distribution of production. There are also differences in the types of production and the subprocesses involved. Collectively, these factors makes benchmarking between different plants a challenge. Further, the impact of different energy efficiency measures on product quality (e.g. tensile strength, freeness, opacity) creates an additional challenge.

Meaningful benchmarking is often possible for mills working with certain types of pulp and paper, using the same type of production, and involving comparable subprocesses.5 The tables below provide best practice values for both stand-alone and integrated pulp and paper mills. 

Pulp and PaperBenchmarks

World Best Practice Final and Primary Energy Intensity Values for Stand-Alone Pulp Mills1
Raw Material Product Process Fuel Use for Steam
Steam Exported

Electricity Use

Electricity Produced
Final Primary* Final Primary* Final Primary*
Non-wood Market Pulp Pulping 10.5 -4.2 400 1212     7.7 10.7
Wood Market Pulp Kraft 11.2   640 1939 -655 -1985 11.1 11
    Sulfite 16   700 2121     18.5 23.6
    Thermo-mechanical   -1.3 2190 6636     6.6 22.6
Paper Recovered Pulp   0.3   330 1000     1.5 3.9

ADt = Air dried metric ton.
*: Primary energy assumes electricity generation, transmission and distribution losses of 67

World Best Practice Final and Primary Energy Intensity Values for Stand-Alone Paper Mills1
Raw Material Product Process

Fuel Use for Steam

Electricity Use
Final Primary* Final Primary*
Pulp Uncoated fine (wood free) Paper machine 6.7 640 1939 9.0 13.7
  Coated fine (wood free) Paper machine 7.5 810 2455 10.4 16.3
  Newsprint Paper machine 5.1 570 1727 7.2 11.3
  Board Paper machine 6.7 800 2424 9.6 15.4
  Kraftliner Paper machine 5.9 535 1621 7.8 11.7
  Tissue Paper machine 6.9 1000 3030 10.5 17.8

ADt = Air dried metric ton.
*: Primary energy assumes electricity generation, transmission and distribution losses of 67


World Best Practice Final and Primary Energy Intensity Values for Integrated Pulp and Paper Mills1
Raw Material Product Process

Fuel Use for Steam

Electricity Use
Final Primary* Final Primary* Final Primary*
Wood Bleached uncoated fine Kraft 14 14 1200 3636 18.3 27.1
  Kraftliner (unbleached) and bag paper Kraft 14 14 1000 3030 17.6 24.9
  Bleached coated fine Sulfite 17 14 1500 3030 22.4 24.9
  Bleached uncoated fine Sulfite 18 17 1200 4545 22.3 33.4
  Newsprint TMP -1.3 18 2200 3636 6.6 31.1
  Magazine paper TMP -0.3 -1.3 2100 6667 7.3 22.7
  Board 50% TMP 3.5 -0.3 2300 6364 11.8 22.6
  Board (no de-inking)   8 3.5 900 6970 11.2 28.6
  Newsprint (de-inked)   4 8 1000 2727 7.6 17.8
  Tissue (de-inked)   7 4 1200 3030 11.3 14.9

ADt = Air dried metric ton.
*: Primary energy assumes electricity generation, transmission and distribution losses of 67%. 


Benchmark Footnotes: 


Worrell, E., Price, L., Neelis, M., Galitsky, C., Nan, Z. (2008). "World Best Practice Energy Intensity Values for Selected Industrial Sectors", Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Global paper and paperboard production has grown by more than 50% since 1990. In 2006, annual production totaled 365 Mt.1

The figure below shows the worldwide development of the industry from 1997 to 2002. More information on major pulp and paper producing countries and their production volumes in 2009 are provided here. 

Worldwide concentration of pulp and paper industry.7

Pulp and Paper Industry Concentration Worldwide


Canada and the United States are the world’s largest mechanical pulp and chemical pulp producers respectively. China was the world’s largest paper producer in 2009. Germany, Sweden and Finland are the largest European paper producers.2

Between 1990 and 2008, the energy consumption per ton of paper decreased in all the world’s major producing countries except Brazil. The largest reduction was seen in China, where specific consumption has decreased by more than 4% per year since 1990. In Mexico and South Korea energy consumption per ton of paper also decreased sharply over the period (by 4% per year and 3% per year, respectively). Moderate reductions were made in the European Union and Japan (less than 1% per year). In the United States, however, which is the largest producer, specific consumption has surged by 6% per year since 1990.3 Japan and South Korea, on the other hand, have achieved high levels of energy efficiency in the pulp and paper industry.2

The share of pulp from recovered fiber ranges from 30% in the Russian Federation through to 52% in the EU-15 and 70% in Japan. Although the upper technical limit for recovered paper use is considered to be 81%, practically the upper limit is closer to 60%.1 There is significant potential to increase paper recycling in India, where levels are currently around 20%.6

Spain, the United Kingdom, Finland, Germany and Italy meet more than 25% of the total electricity demand of their pulp and paper industry using CHP. Additionally, Spain and the United Kingdom have the highest percentage of CHP use in the pulp and paper industry in Europe (although Finland and Germany have the largest installed CHP capacity), with estimated CHP usage rates of 61% and 40% respectively.2

Indian Flag With increased recycling and the greater diffusion of CHP, the IEA estimates potential savings of more than 20% at the current level of energy consumption for the Indian pulp and paper industry.6

General Industry Characteristics

Top pulp producing countries and their production in 2009.

See Source Data

2009 [1]

Name 1000 tons
USA 48329
China 20813
Canada 17079
Brazil 13315
Sweden 11463
Finland 9003
Japan 8506
Russia 7235
TOTAL 135743
Back to Chart

2009 [1]

Top paper producing countries and their production in 2009

See Source Data

2009 [2]

Name 1000 tons
China 86391
USA 71613
Japan 26279
Germany 20902
Canada 12857
Sweden 10933
Finland 10602
TOTAL 239577
Back to Chart

2009 [2]


This section provides information on the various international and national organizations that focus on energy efficiency in the pulp and paper industry. 

Pulp and Paper Organizations Global

Pulp and Paper Organizations Australia

Pulp and Paper Organizations Brazil

Pulp and Paper Organizations Canada

Pulp and Paper Organizations China

Pulp and Paper Organizations Europe

Pulp and Paper Organizations European Union

Pulp and Paper Organizations Finland

Pulp and Paper Organizations Germany

Pulp and Paper Organizations India

Pulp and Paper Organizations United States

Pulp and Paper Organizations Japan

Pulp and Paper Organizations Russia

Programs Description: 

This section contains information on the various international and national programs that focus on energy efficiency in the pulp and paper industry.

Pulp and Paper Programs Australia

Pulp and Paper Programs Europe

Pulp and Paper Programs European Union

Pulp and Paper Programs India

Pulp and Paper Programs Japan

Pulp and Paper Programs United States

Energy Management System Structure

Industrial energy efficiency can be greatly enhanced by more effectively managing plant operations and processes. Experience shows that companies and sites with stronger energy management programs gain greater improvements in energy efficiency than those that lack good procedures and management practices focused on the continuous improvement of energy performance.
An Energy Management System (EnMS) provides a framework to manage energy use and promote continuous improvement. It helps with assessment, planning, and evaluation procedures, all of which are critical to realizing and sustaining the potential energy efficiency gains of new technologies or operational changes.
A sound energy management program is required to create a foundation for positive change and provide guidance on managing energy throughout an organization. Continuous improvements to energy efficiency therefore typically only occur where there is strong organizational commitment. The key elements of a strategic EnMS is depicted in the figure on the right. 
There are a number of guidelines aimed at helping companies to establish an effective EnMS - including from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the recent ISO 50000 series by the International Standards Organization. Although the details differ, these guidelines promote continuous improvement of energy efficiency through: 
  • organizational practices and policies;
  • team development;
  • planning and evaluation;
  • tracking and measurement;
  • communication and employee engagement and;
  • evaluation and corrective measures (US EPA, 2010).

While an EnMS can help organizations achieve greater savings through a focus on continuous improvement in energy efficiency, it does not guarantee energy savings or carbon dioxide reductions. To achieve cost savings, an EnMS must be combined with effective plant energy benchmarking and appropriate plant improvements. 

This page will be updated with examples of EnMs implementation in the pulp and paper industry. 

Pulp and Paper Publications


International Energy Agency (2009). Energy Technology Transitions for Industry.


International Energy Agency (2007). Tracking Industrial Energy Efficiency and CO2 Emissions.


Enerdata & Economist Intelligence Unit (2011). Trends in global energy efficiency 2011 - An analysis of industry and utilities.


International Energy Agency (2008). Energy Technology Perspectives - Scenarios and Strategies to 2050.


European Commision (2010). Draft Reference Document on Best Available Techniques in the Pulp and Paper Industry. DG - JRC.


International Energy Agency (2011). Energy Transition for Industry: India and the Global Context.


Forest Trends (2011). Trends and Developments in the Chinese Pulp and Paper Industry.