Vendor focus: Paper from Portugal

A strong marketing campaign is putting Portugal on the map as a leading source of green pulp and paper.


Many observers believe that over the last few decades the paper industry has really pushed its game in terms of protecting the environment. 

The truth is that when it comes to paper production, paper manufacturers have created efficient systems and processes that actually work to preserve our landscapes, rather than destroy them, by avoiding mass deforestation operations and river pollution.  

However, it is true to say that many consumers still have wrongly-conceived notions about paper’s credentials, and some serious work still needs to be done to communicate the real nature of paper products. One organisation that is working hard to achieve this goal is CELPA in Portugal.

Cutting down misconceptions, growing trees

CELPA is a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of the pulp and paper industry in Portugal (see box ‘About CELPA’ below). This is an industry that stands for more than 5% of the country’s exports of goods, and is an important source of direct and indirect employment. Furthermore, many people are interested in promoting its green benefits to consumers who are more and more keeping this in mind when making purchases.  

On 13 December 2011 CELPA launched a campaign to challenge the world’s misconceptions about the paper and pulp industries. It will run throughout 2012 until early 2013 under the tagline ‘More forests, better future’. 

The main focus is to dispel myths and provide facts that demonstrate how papermaking in Portugal actually promotes forestation and is a source of natural wealth (see box ‘Portugal’s forests: The facts’ below). The campaign is aimed at key opinion makers across Europe, particularly in Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, and is designed to promote Portuguese pulp and paper products as a European success story. 

Featuring the ‘Paper From Portugal’ signature, CELPA hopes to attract attention by using campaign headlines that surprise readers with forthright assertions and objective facts. A range of media and activities will be used in the campaign, including printed material, web channel, viral videos and exhibits at international trade fairs.

The online dimension will be the defining factor of the campaign, making use of substantial online advertising coverage and dynamic activities designed to attract visitors to the website Together with MOFILM, an innovative project that reaches a community of artists and filmmakers around the world, CELPA has invited filmmakers from the MOFILM network to submit videos which convey the message that “by using paper from Portugal, you are contributing to a better future”. Print media tools will also be developed as part of the broader media and communication strategy of the campaign.

A clear focus

CELPA’s story starts from the root of the problem. The organisation’s message is that since its conception, the Portuguese pulp and paper sector has been grounded in innovation and respect for nature, our precious resource. The industry has long supported only those manufacturers that are guided according to the principles of responsible forest management. 

Over the years the Portuguese paper and pulp industry has achieved high standards of efficiency by using modern technology and high-quality raw materials. These are transformed into premium brands with certified green credentials, made from natural renewable resources that are suitable for recycling. With research and development teams committed to a greener future, Portugal is currently the European leading producer of uncoated fine papers and bleached eucalyptus kraft pulp. 

Over the past 13 years, the Portuguese paper and pulp industry has invested more than 1500 million ($619 million) to reduce its environmental impact. Because they are managed sustainably, Portuguese forests provide other important ecosystem services, such as soil formation and protection, the water cycle, energy flows, climate regulation, and cultural and recreational services besides being an important economical resource. 

CELPA promotes the idea that virgin fibres should be reserved for paper that has to meet higher quality standards and serve longer lifecycles, such as for printing and writing paper. The abundance of renewable forestry resources in Europe should obviously also influence the extent to which this general principle is applied.

There is no sensible rationale to promote the use of recycled fibres to manufacture high-quality, high-demanding papers like some fine printing and publishing papers. Extending this argument could mean that valuable wood resources would be used to manufacture lower-quality paper products which have shorter lifecycles with low valorisation for recycling, or which can no longer be recycled like some packaging, tissue or newsprint.  

In terms of looking ahead, green energy is already an important focus of the future. ‘Paper from Portugal’ is ahead of the game in this respect – 70% of energy used in papermaking is green, compared to the European average of 54%. 

So it’s in many people’s interests to keep the sector vibrant by getting this vital message across. Paper is still needed and it always will be, and CELPA’s strong campaign is putting Portugal firmly on the map as Europe’s go-to place for sourcing paper that is not only green, but provides valuable employment.

Portugal’s forests: The facts

  • Portugal’s woodlands have grown by almost 80% in the last century – that is more than 28,000 football pitches a year
  • The industry’s nurseries produce an average of 13 million plants a year, and the number is growing 
  • Today, Portugal’s woodlands cover nearly 40% of the country, thanks in good part to the paper and pulp industry
  • Today, 70% of the energy used in the Portuguese paper industry is green, which is well above the European average of 54%; Portugal is a leading investor in forest biomass
  • Portugal’s forest is divided between more than 400,000 landowners. The pulp and paper industry is an important source of direct and indirect employment  
  • The Portuguese forestry sector employs more than 100,000 people in total 
  • Portuguese paper is part of a natural system, with renewable sources and certified green credentials
  • 60% of office paper exports from Europe to the rest of the world come from Portugal.

On the big screen

An innovative element of its Europe-wide campaign was CELPA’s film competition. The organisation aimed to inspire filmmakers from around the world to harness their creativity and submit entries to the MOFILM contest for Cannes Lions, the top advertising festival. 

Filmmakers in the MOFILM network were invited to submit videos that convey the message that “by using paper from Portugal, you contribute to a better future”. The idea was to tell the true story of Portuguese paper products and how they contribute to the sustainability of Portugal’s woodlands.

The judges were looking for original and exciting videos, as well as a fresh and creative approach, with a view to sharing them online. The winners, announced in Cannes during the International Advertising Festival, are:

Frederico Arouca – Portugal: Film “SEED”

Jeff Jenkins – United States: Film “Plant Invasion”

Karen Erbach – United States: Film “Bill”

Tamara Rosenfeld – United Kingdom: Film “Paper Classroom”

Gaurav Madan – India: Film “What colour do you want?”

Find all the films at


CELPA (Portuguese Paper Industry Association) is a non-profit organisation which represents the collective interests of the pulp, paper, cardboard and related industries in dealings with public authorities and private sector bodies in Portugal and abroad.

CELPA currently has ten corporate members and represents the leading manufacturers of pulp, paper and cardboard operating in Portugal. Its membership accounts for 100% of the country’s pulp output and approximately 90% of Portugal’s output of paper and cardboard – almost 3,200,000 tonnes of pulp, paper and board in 2010. In Europe, CELPA participates in several international associations, such as CEPI, CEPIFINE, FAO, ICPFA, IEFC and UTIPULP. It supports the CEPI, regarding ICFPA leadership. CELPA also participates in the work group of forest management. 

In 2011, CELPA was represented in CEPI in the following committees and work groups:

  • Executive Committee/Board of Directors
  • Environment (BREF, REACH; social affairs; green public procurement; carbon footprint, water footprint)
  • Forest (certification; bioenergy and biomass mobilisation – Energy Committee, Forest & Water)
  • Recycling and Products (Monitoring; recovered paper quality; food contact)
  • Energy (Climate change policies; bioenergy).

Article content supplied by CELPA