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Paper Recycling Facts

Abhijit Naik
A compilation of some interesting facts about paper recycling, which will prompt you to do your bit to save the planet.
Even though the use of computer and other electronic gadgets has increased by a great proportion over the last decade, our dependence on paper is far from over. The two-sided impact of the use of paper on such a large scale has been taking a toll on our environment.
Approximately 90 percent of the paper produced in the world today comes from wood pulp, for which thousands of trees are felled every other year. More importantly, the environmental issues attributed to improper disposal of paper also add to our environmental woes. With such exploitation of nature in the garb of industrial production of paper reaching magnanimous proportion, its high time we resort to recycling and stop polluting the environment.

Paper Recycling

Simply put, the process of recovering waste paper and using the same to make new paper products is known as 'paper recycling'. Any paper that is suitable for recycling is referred to as 'scrap paper'. In general, this scrap paper is grouped into three categories: mill broke, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste.
Mill broke refers to scrap paper which is produced in course of paper production in mills and subjected to recycling process in the mill itself.
While pre-consumer waste paper refers to scrap paper which is discarded before it is ready for consumer use, post-consumer waste paper refers to scrap paper that is discarded after use. If you intend to contribute your bit to save the planet, you will have to concentrate on recycling of post-consumer paper, which lies in abundance around you.

Facts and Figures

Did you know that recycling a single ton of paper can save as many as 17 trees plus 7,000 gallons of water, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which go in its production. (That's enough energy to power a single American home for six months.) Facts like these highlight the need of resorting to paper recycling at the earliest
  • More importantly, the 17 trees used to produce one ton of paper can absorb 250 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Around 85,000,000 tons of paper is used in the United States, in various forms, every year. While 77 percent of the waste paper generated in the US is recyclable, only 22 percent of the same is actually recycled.
  • Recycled paper causes 73 percent less pollution and uses 60 percent less energy as compared to paper produced from scratch using raw material.
  • The importance of recycling paper can be attributed to the fact that it can reduce air pollution associated with paper production by 75 percent and water pollution by 30 percent.
  • If everybody in the United States recycles 1/10th of the total newspapers that they use, it can help save 25,000,000 trees every single year.
  • Around 40 percent of the wasted paper is used for landfills and thus, recycling every single ton of paper saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • In a single office, 1 lb of paper waste per employee is produced every year, of which 77 percent is scrap paper which can be recycled.
  • Even though the use of computer has increased by a significant extent, around 115 billion sheets of paper are used to get computer printouts every year.
  • In 2008, 57.4 percent of post-consumed paper was recovered for recycling in the United States. On an average, that accounts for 340 lbs per person.
While we may not see any direct effects of the same, but the irresponsible use of paper is affecting our environment to a significant extent. If today we don't do something to save trees, it may turn out to be too late tomorrow.