National wood fiber balances for the pulp and paper sector: An approach to supplement international forest products statistics
In recent years, several studies have found indications for data gaps and errors in the forestry production and trade section of the widely used FAOSTAT database. This manuscript focusses on inconsistencies in data on recovered pulp production, which have not yet been investigated in much detail. We develop national wood fiber balances for the pulp and paper sector for eleven countries. Our balances compare the wood fiber input (i.e. virgin and recovered pulp) in the paper and paperboard sector with the output (i.e. paper products) of this sector. By doing so, we are able to identify data gaps and errors and to determine the recovered pulp production as a residual volume in each country. For instance, we calculate a recovered pulp production of about 8.9 million tons for India in 2018. According to FAOSTAT, this production amounted to only 1.2 million tons. This is obviously too low considering that in the same year an apparent consumption of recovered paper of more than 10.1 million tons was reported. Moreover, we calculate ratios between virgin and recycled fibers in the paper production of the investigated countries. Our analysis provides a basis for better understanding of material flows in the pulp and paper sector and for supplements of international statistics.