Paper Recycling: You can build a better future taking care of the environment
Paper recycling is one of the actions that each one of us can carry out to collaborate with the care of rivers and seas. To manufacture 1,000 kilos of white paper, paper mills consume nearly 100,000 liters of water, a good that, as we all know, is increasingly scarce. Unfortunately, of all that water, around 10%, highly contaminated, is discharged into the rivers. Paper production is one of the industrial activities with the greatest negative impact on the environment on our planet.
The world demand for paper and cardboard grows year after year due, in large part, to the consumption of paper for packaging.
The paper industry is one of the industries that pollutes the most and consumes the most natural resources, which implies forest destruction. In addition to this, all the processes related to the production, distribution and consumption of paper and paperboard generate soil, water and air pollution.
The main source of raw material to produce paper are forests so, every year, billions of trees are lost. To extract the cellulose fiber that is found in the wood of the trees, it is resorted to felling and deforestation of the few vegetable lungs that we still have on Earth.
By eliminating hydrogen peroxide, chlorine and other chemical substances used in the paper and paperboard production processes together with the residual effluents, rivers, lakes and seas are polluted, negatively affecting water quality and putting at risk plants, animals and people.
In turn, in the production and logistics processes, fossil fuels are consumed to produce the energy necessary for them, which causes the emission of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to pollution, global warming and, consequently, to climate change.
According to the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency): “The total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2018 was 292.4 million tons (U.S. short tons, unless specified) or 4.9 pounds per person per day. Of the MSW generated, approximately 69 million tons were recycled and 25 million tons were composted. Together, almost 94 million tons of MSW were recycled and composted, equivalent to a 32.1 percent recycling and composting rate. An additional 17.7 million tons of food were managed by other methods.”
Of the total MSW generated in the United States alone, 23.05% corresponds to Paper and Paperboard, which represents the monstrous amount of 67,390,000 tons.
Now, if we take the amount of paper that is recycled, we find that of the total recycled MSW, the paper and paperboard category represents 66.54% with almost 46 million tons.
But is it enough?
No, it is not. Much remains to be done in the United States to prevent these more than 21 million tons of paper from continuing to pollute our rivers and seas, producing ecological disasters. And you have the opportunity to help avoid them.
Paper Recycling near me
One of the first things we can do is check if there is a paper recycling center in or near our neighborhood. If I find a paper recycling center near me but there is no community paper recycling bin on the streets of my neighborhood, I can start accumulating paper waste in a small paper recycling bin inside my house, and when it is complete, take its contents to the paper recycling center.
What paper to use?
Another thing we can do when buying paper is to choose more eco-friendly paper. There are two recommended types:
- Chlorine-free bleached paper: virgin cellulose is used in its manufacture, which means that trees have been felled, but at least the disastrous effects of chlorine on the environment are minimised. The label must specify: “Chlorine-free paper” or “Chlorine-free bleached paper”.
- Recycled paper: does not involve a bleaching process; it no longer involves the felling of trees and represents a much lower consumption of water and electricity.
Recycling paper benefits
REDUCTION OF LOGGING
For every ton of recycled paper, the equivalent of between 12 and 20 trees is saved in wood. By recycling the paper you use, you will be contributing to help recover the forests of our planet.
The manufacture of paper from recycled paper saves 70% of the energy that would be used if it were made from wood or virgin fibres.
WATER AND FUEL SAVINGS
Recycling a ton of paper generates a saving of 70% to 80% of water with respect to the production of paper from virgin fiber and hundreds of liters of fossil fuel and oils in its manufacture.
Paper represents 23.05% of the waste we generate every day. In the USA, more than 33% of articles made from paper and cardboard end up in landfill.
REDUCTION OF EMISSIONS TO THE ATMOSPHERE
Also manufacturing recycled paper from paper that has already been used represents a significant percentage reduction in gas emissions into the atmosphere compared to manufacturing paper from cellulose.