Office Paper | AEC Online

August 8, 2016 – 07:51 am
Pallet & Wood Waste Recycling in the Midlands, Birmingham and

- Does recycling paper save trees? Though you would think the answer to this would be a resounding yes, even though the raw material for making paper is predominantly trees, it is a common misconception that recycling waste paper saves trees. Trees are grown for commercial use and harvested as a long term crop with new trees planted to replace those cut down. In addition, papermakers are able to use the parts of the trees that cannot be used in other industries such as construction and furniture making. Different species of trees provide fibres that are used in different types of paper. Coniferous softwoods such as spruce, pine birch and cedar produce fibres which are long (average fibre length is 3mm) and are used to make papers which have a lot of strength. Hardwoods such as birch and aspen do not grow as fast as softwoods and produce short fibres (average fibre length 1mm) which are used for bulky papers such as writing paper and fluting, which is the middle part of cardboard. Nearly all paper is made from wood grown in these "sustainable" forests.

- Then why recycle paper if it doesn't really save trees? Lots of reasons:

  1. The nature of forests and where they are situated. As the demand for paper has increased, more timber has been needed to meet the demand for wood pulp. In some cases this has meant the loss of valuable wildlife habitats and ecosystems, as old forests have been replaced by managed plantations, usually of fast-growing conifers. The lack of tree species diversity in managed forests has a direct impact on the biodiversity of the whole forest.
  2. By using waste paper to produce new paper disposal problems are reduced.
  3. For every ton of paper used for recycling the savings are: at least 8000gallons of water, 3000 - 4000 KWh electricity (enough for an average 3 bedroom house for one year), 95% of air pollution.
  4. Producing recycled paper involves between 28 - 70% less energy consumption than virgin paper and uses less water. This is because most of the energy used in papermaking is the pulping needed to turn wood into paper.
  5. Recycled paper produces fewer polluting emissions to air (95% of air pollution) and water. Recycled paper is not usually re-bleached and where it is, oxygen rather than chlorine is usually used. This reduces the amount of dioxins which are released into the environment as a by-product of the chlorine bleaching processes.
  6. Paper is a biodegradable material. This means that when it goes to landfill, as it rots, it produces methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas (20 times more potent than carbon dioxide). It is becoming increasingly accepted that global climate change is a reality, and that methane and carbon dioxide emissions have to be reduced to lessen its effects.
  7. About one fifth of the contents of household trash consist of paper and card, of which half is newspapers and magazines. This is equivalent to over 8 lbs. of waste paper per household in the US each week.

What are the main types of paper in everyday use which can be recycled?

  1. Office white paper
  2. Newspapers, magazines, telephone directories and pamphlets
  3. Cardboard
  4. Mixed or coloured paper
  5. Computer print out paper

Source: www.aeconline.org

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