When it comes to talking about paper waste, we've heard it all before. Paper waste is bad...you should make better choices....and so on. But what does it all really mean? Why is paper waste such a bad thing, doesn't it eventually decompose and disappear anyway? In order to start making better choices for you and your business, you have to truly understand the issue and why it matters.
Even in the digital age with paperless technology at our fingertips, the impact of paper waste is massive:
- Each year, the world produces around 400 million tons of paper to meet consumer demands.
- The pulp and paper industry is the third largest industrial polluter to air, water and land in both Canada and the United States, and releases well over 100 million kg of toxic pollution each year such as chlorine, mercury, lead and phosphorus.
- The industry uses more water to produce one ton of product than any other industry.
Paper in the U.S. represents one of the biggest components of solid waste in landfills – 26 million tons (or 16% of landfill solid waste) in 2009. When paper decomposes in landfills, it produces methane, a climate changeing gas with 25 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide.
Businesses are a leading culprit
50% of the waste of businesses is composed of paper and on a daily basis, 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up in the trash! This daily lifespan occurs for over a trillion sheets of paper per year, worldwide. Packaging also makes up a whopping 1/3 or more of our trash.
Did you know that 93% of paper comes from trees. Over 60% of the roughly 17 billion cubic feet of timber harvested worldwide each year is used for paper and pulp. The Sunday edition of the New York Times alone requires 75,000 trees!
Why does this matter?
The loss of forests contributes to between 12-17% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. A tree can absorb up to 48lbs of CO2 per year and produce enough oxygen for 2 people to breathe. Growing populations means more trees are needed to sustain us, yet we are depleting our precious forests everyday.
Recycling 1 ton of paper saves around 682.5 gallons of oil, 26,500 litres of water and 17 trees. Producing recycled paper requires about 60 percent of the energy used to make paper from virgin wood pulp. It also requires fewer and safer processing and bleaching chemicals than those required to make virgin wood pulp.
How you can make a difference
- Go paperless whenever possible by choosing to review and store documents digitally.
- Use recycled paper at home and in the office.
- When you must print and copy, be sure to use both sides.
- Adjust fonts and formatting to fit more text on a standard sheet.
- Reuse paper whenever possible. The back side of sheets can be used for note taking, sketching and more.
- Encourage others to do the same and share this article.
Seed Paper is an eco-friendly alternative that saves trees and doesn't produce waste.
At Botanical PaperWorks we understand that paper communications are vital in today's world, both on a personal level and in business. That is why we produce biodegradable seed paper that is embedded with wildflowers, herb or veggie seeds that grows when the paper is planted in soil. No waste is left behind! Plus, it also uses post-consumer and post-industrial material to save trees. By choosing seed paper for eco-friendly events, promotional products, business cards and more, you can reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to habitats for bees and other important pollinators.