In this day and age, paper remains one of the most widely used medium for communication and information storage. Global consumption of paper totaled 422 million metric tons in 2018, rising steadily from 392.7 million metric tons in 2008 (Statista, n.d.). Tons of paper are being used daily at our homes, offices and learning institutions. It is therefore imperative that we use it wisely.
Trees constitute the main material for paper production, and this has an adverse effect on the environment. Moreover, its production and disposal are energy intensive processes; consuming lots of raw materials, generating greenhouse gases (Ghgs) and increasing the amount of waste going into landfills. Paper recycling is one of the process championed to reduce the negative impacts that paper industry has on the environment. It reduces the environmental demand and arrest wastage resulting from various production processes.
The use of recycled paper is gaining traction as the public awareness of environmental issues has grown over the years. Achieving sustainability will require support from companies, people, and government. By using recycled paper, we are taking a stance against global warming and being responsible for our future generation.
Recycled paper is environmentally friendly since most of the manufacturing processes involved, strived to moderate the negative environmental impact. So, what are some of the benefits of using the recycled paper?
1. Recycling paper conserve natural resources
Trees remain the predominant raw material for paper industries. As paper usage increase, the demand for wood increases consequently. This led to the increased harvesting of timber which resulted in deforestation. Recycled paper provides an alternative solution for the demand of paper. A study by (Marie-Luise, n.d.) has revealed that by recycling one ton of paper, we are able to conserve 17 trees, save at least 7000 gallons of water and 4000 kW of energy. According to WWF, in 2019 the tropics lost close to 30 soccer fields worth of trees every single minute!
2. Recycled paper reduces greenhouse gases
According to the (Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.), every ton of recycled paper help reduce the equivalent of 3.6 million metric tons CO2 emissions. So how does recycled paper help curb emissions?
a. Recycling paper curb methane emissions from landfill as 80 % of wastepaper normally ends up in landfills. As the wastepaper decomposes, methane gas is produced. The US’ Environmental Protection Agency has singled out landfills as the largest source of methane. A greenhouse gas has 21 times of the heat trapping capacity of CO2. Therefore, by recycling this wastepaper, the methane gas that could have been released is curbed.
b. Preventing deforestation help to maintain our forest cover which is a crucial CO2 absorber. By relying on wastepaper as its raw material, recycled paper ensures more trees are left standing. Trees absorb carbon through a process called carbon sequestration. Such a process moderates the levels of CO2 in the environment thus minimizing the impact of industrial CO2 emissions (Paper Recycling Coalition, n.d.)
Paper recycling consumes less energy than the production of virgin paper pulp and energy production is responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. Pulp and paper industries are among the world’s highest energy consumers, accounting for 4 % of the total global energy use(University of Illinois System, n.d.). Manufacturing paper out of wastepaper consumes less energy as compared to paper produced out of wood. Most studies have revealed that energy savings of between 7- 57 % is realized, particularly on paper products used for printing, packaging and cleaning(Paper On The Rocks, n.d.). Therefore, by saving on energy consumed, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
3. Solid waste reduction
Wastepaper is often incinerated or ends up in landfill. Yet these two practices are clear contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. Waste papers constitute around 28 % of the total waste trashed in landfills. According to EPA, every ton of paper occupies 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space. When wastepaper is incinerated, toxic substances are released into the environment. Although this helps reduce landfill solid trash, it does little to curb Ghg emissions (Arjowiggins, n.d.). It is therefore clear that recycling wastepaper reduces solid trash, saves landfill space and most importantly reduce our carbon footprint.
4. Wastewater reduction
Chemical usage is intensive during paper making process. Paper milling rely on toxic chemicals such as chlorine and its compounds to turn wood into pulp and for bleaching purposes. Mercury, organic halides, boiler ash and effluent sludge are all the possible byproducts of paper and pulp industries. These chemicals are harmful and can have catastrophic effects should they find their way into water bodies. By recycling wastepaper, we are reducing waste effluents, moderating chemical usage, and therefore reducing the ruinous effects of industrial waste.
5. Recycling paper saves water
Pulp and paper milling industries consumes a lot of freshwater. In some nations, up to 10% of all the freshwater ends up in paper industries. This is so, given the role that water play in almost every production process involved. Therefore, one of the best ways to conserve water is to recycle paper. Every pound of recycled wastepaper can save about 3.5 gallons of water(Paper On The Rocks, n.d.).
As is evident, the environmental benefits of recycling paper are numerous. You can therefore make a positive impact towards the sustainability agenda by purchasing recycled paper products, it will encourage the production of even more eco-friendly products. This is sustainably beneficial in the long run. If you are looking for an ecofriendly diary, office supplies or just a versatile journal for day to day activities, support recycled paper notebook and enjoy the thrill of being part of the green products awakening!
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Arjowiggins. (n.d.). Reducing Landfill. Retrieved from Arjowiggins Website: https://recycled-papers.co.uk/green-matters/why-use-recycled-papers/reduce-landfill
Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Paper Recycling. Retrieved from EPA Website: https://archive.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/materials/paper/web/html/index-2.html
Marie-Luise, B. (n.d.). Retrieved from SeattlePi: https://education.seattlepi.com/advantages-recycling-paper-3440.html
Paper On The Rocks. (n.d.). Paper Making: What makes paper production such a wasteful process. Retrieved from Paper On The Rocks Website: https://paperontherocks.com/2019/03/22/water-waste-paper-industry-what-makes-pulp-paper-production-thirsty-business/
Paper Recycling Coalition. (n.d.). How recycling paper fights global warming. Retrieved from https://www.paperrecyclingcoalition.com/policyissues/how-recycling-paper-fights-global-warming/
Statista. (n.d.). Pulp and Paper. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/270319/consumption-of-paper-and-cardboard-since-2006
University of Illinois System. (n.d.). Paper Waste Reduction. Retrieved from https://sustainability.uic.edu/green-campus/recycling/paper-waste-reduction/
World Wildlife Fund. Deforestation Retrieved from https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation