The water used in paper production comes largely from natural rivers and lakes nearby paper mills, which belongs to everyone. This brings us to something else alarming about the paper industry’s water use: its impact on the people who live nearby the factories making this paper.
Apart from land rights struggles caused by paper companies taking over land where indigenous peoples have traditionally lived for centuries, there are also many cases in which fresh water supplies are diverted away from local communities to be used in paper mills. This means less water, or contaminated water, for drinking, cooking and washing, and subsequently leads to conflict over this much sought after resource.
Below is just one of several troubling case studies of human rights violations found in the 2018 Report on the State of the Global Paper Industry (p28-29):
“In Chile pulp and paper companies are involved in bitter conflicts with indigenous and traditional people who claim the land that these companies obtained from the government during the military dictatorship of Pinochet. After democracy returned in 1990, the Mapuche started to reclaim their rights, which include the recognition of their cultural identity, the demand for land, and the demand for autonomy.