By Andrés Uribe, Expedition PR
Are you environmentally conscious? Do you implement paper saving techniques around the office, such as increasing margins, decreasing font sizes, and printing on double-sided paper in order to reduce your printing and ultimately save trees? As do we, but when it comes to saving trees, we truly applaud the initiatives that professionals who work in the paper industry are taking. Contrary to popular belief, these ‘monsters that seek to profit from the destruction of our forests’ are actually doing a lot more to save them than most take time to notice.
Here are the two main initiatives that companies working in the paper industry have implemented that would put a smile on Captain Planet’s face.
Planting trees for paper. When you think about paper, you think it came from a tree so a tree was killed to make it. While this might be true, the good thing about trees is that you can always plant another one; the paper industry is doing this in ways that no other industry is.
Around the world, according to ecology.com, 35% of all the trees that are cut down each year around the world are used to manufacture pulp that ends up being processed into paper. Out of this, there are two main categories of trees that are used. The first, and more preferred, come from tree farms and/or second growth forests. Although these two are distinctively different, they both represent tree sources that can be and already have been used before and are regrown with the specific intent of being harvested at a future date to meet paper supply needs. This represents over 91% of the trees used for paper purposes every year. The second category, old growth forests, which are impossible to replace, represent less than 9% worldwide each year. This second source is used more in developing nations where less sophisticated paper industries are in place.
Recycling to meet demands. While only 35% of trees cut down each year are used for paper needs, this number would be much high should it not be for the use of recycled paper. In the U.S., according to the EPA, 66% of all paper used is recycled and converted back into the raw materials that are then reused to make more paper. This includes 70% of newspapers and 91% of cardboard that is recycled each year. Together, recycled paper along with recycled scraps from lumber yards cut the paper industry’s need for whole trees and other plants down by two thirds.
But how is the quality of this recycled paper? What does it look like? Chances are, you already know; 77% of all papermakers in the U.S. use a mixture of fresh wood and recycled paper in their papermaking process. And even more impressive, according to ecology.com, around 40% of these mills that use recycled paper use a majority of recycled paper in their process. Although recycled paper can only be used about 5-7 times before the fibers are too short to be useful in further cycles, paper mills are doing their best to extract the most value out of every piece of paper they create.
As you can see by the numbers, the paper industry is a true champion of the environment and is working toward a sustainable future. Paper industry efforts coupled with in office paper saving techniques, such as those earlier mentioned (see more paper saving tips at RethinkRecycle.com), are what is going to make the paper industry truly sustainable.