Most people are shocked to learn how much waste paper is generated in a typical office or home in a given year. Think of the hundreds of times a day we touch paper – newspapers, cereal boxes, toilet paper, water bottle labels, parking tickets, streams of catalogs and junk mail, money, tissues, books, shopping bags, receipts, napkins, printer and copier paper at home and work, magazines and to-go food packaging. This list could fill a paperback.
Paper shows negative environmental impacts that occur at three stages in the life cycle of paper, beginning with the harvesting of trees for fiber, continuing with the processing of wood fiber into pulp for making paper and finishing with the disposal of paper products at the end of their useful life.
The pulp and paper industry is very energy intensive, requires extremely large amounts of water, and often entails the use of toxic chemicals, of which the most problematic are the chlorine compounds used in bleaching pulp to make bright white paper. Paper industry has been the major source of ecological imbalance.
Reducing paper consumption in companies has big, positive benefits for the environment and for business efficiency. We have a priceless legacy of traditions and cultures which have been eco-friendly and environment conserving. But, we have diverted from our traditions by following the lure of science and technology blindly. We should realize that science and technology must be used to enhance our lives and not to deteriorate it.
The pulp and paper industry is very energy intensive, requires extremely large amounts of water and often entails the use of toxic chemicals, of which the most problematic are the chlorine compounds used in bleaching pulp to make bright white paper. Although many companies have become more energy efficient, and even generate some of their own power from the wood wastes associated with the manufacturing process, the United States government shows that pulp and paper manufacturers are the fourth largest industrial emitters of greenhouse gases. Further, the pulp and paper industry releases about 212 million tons of hazardous substances into the air and water, which is equal to metal industry – and is ranked third largest user of industrial water.
Damages caused by the Paper Industry:
Continuing Toxic Pollution: Paper production industry uses many toxic chemicals like toxic solvents and chlorine compounds to bleach and delignify pulp.
Conventional air pollution: Pulp and paper mills are large sources of standard air pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxides, carbon monoxides and particulates. These contribute to ozone warnings, acid rain, global warming and respiratory problems.
Energy Consumption: Paper making is energy intensive, drawing large amount of electricity from public utilities, or forcing mills to build their own power plants. This is a significant contributor to the air pollution in our region, and to the hidden damages due to fuel extraction at the source.
Water Consumption: Paper making uses a great deal of water, frequently from diminishing groundwater supplies.
Solid Waste: Paper making generally produces a large amount of solid waste. This waste can include fibers, bark, uncooked wood chips, and dirt; dissolved solids such as carbohydrates and soluble wood matters; and cooking and bleaching chemicals.
Ecosystem: Unsustainable approaches to forestry destroy the delicate network of relationships between trees and other living organisms – plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria – in a particular habitat.
Reducing Paper wastage in the offices
One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of paper you consume is to go digital. The most visible impact of a move to a paperless office is the reduction in the cost of printing, mailing, shipping, and storing paper.
Tips for reducing office paper waste:
Use both sides of paper
1. Set computer defaults to print double-sided.
2. Use paper printed on only one side in your fax machine, for draft copies or internal documents.
Think before you print or copy
Sometimes it is necessary for documents to be printed. Think before you print or copy.
1. Preview documents before printing. Use the print preview to identify the formatting errors and blank pages before you print.
2. Proofread the document first and use the spell/grammar tool to help avoid errors that can cause documents to be reprinted.
3. Print only the required pages of the document instead of the whole report. Most software programs provide this option under the print function.
4. Promote a “think before you copy” attitude. Print only the number of copies needed for the meeting to avoid the wastage.
1. Share direct memos and newsletters that employees should see, but do not need to keep.
2. You can edit documents on screen instead of printing out drafts and making hand-written comments.
3. Use e-mails instead of fax or mailed letters when possible.
4. Fit more words on each page to reduce the amount of paper you use. Use a space-efficient font like Times New Roman.
5. Create an electronic filing system for quick and easy retrieval.
Close the loop on recycling
1. If your office has not yet started recycling, start a recycling paper program to save the organization money.
2. Buy recycled-content paper, preferably made from paper pulp recycled without the use of chlorine.
Maintain your copier
Use the second side of the paper to resend reports in order to avoid the usage of extra paper. Now you’ve cut your paper cost in half and you don’t need to pay the extra postage.
1. Average worldwide annual paper consumption is 48 KG per person with North America accounting for over 1/3.
2. Paper and paper products account for more than 1/3 of all Canada’s waste. Only 1/4 of Canada’s waste paper and paperboard is recycled.
3. The US uses 25% of the world’s paper products.
4. The average American uses more than 748 pounds of paper per year.
5. The average daily web user prints 28 pages daily.
6. 115 billion sheets of paper are used annually for personal computers.
What is paper recycling?
Paper recycling is denoted as the process of recovering waste paper and remaking it into new paper products. There are three categories of paper that can be used as feedstocks for making recycled paper. They are mill broke, pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste. The recycling process takes seven days time for transformation. Recycling of paper not only saves trees and minimizes pollution, but also reduces the waste problem by utilizing waste material like used paper, cotton rags and unwanted biomass. The recycling process is very easy and it includes below steps:
1. Sorted, evaluated and delivered to a paper mill.
2. Adds water to turn into pulp.
3. The paper is then screened, cleaned and de-inked through a number of processes until it is suitable for papermaking.
4. It is then ready to be made into new paper products such as newsprint, cardboard, packaging, tissue and office items.
History of Paper Recycling
Types of Office Paper Which Can Be Recycled
Virtually all types of office paper can be recycled. The major recyclable office paper is high-grade paper and mixed paper. High-grade paper typically consists of white or off-white paper such as:
2. Computer paper
3. Bond copier paper
4. Notepad or scratch paper
5. Tablet paper
6. Plain envelopes
8. Typing paper
Advantages of paper recycling
1. Recycling reduces the wastages
2. Saves 60-70% of energy as compared to virgin paper production
3. Recycled paper uses 55% less water and helps preserve our forests
4. Recycled paper reduces water pollution by 35%, reduces air pollution by 74%, and eliminates many toxic pollutants
5. Recycling of waste paper creates more jobs
Strategies for better implementation of Reuse/Recycle Paper
1. Audit how your office uses and disposes of its paper
2. Set up paper banks for reusing paper printed on one side only
3. Reuse paper printed on one side for staff note pads
4. Reuse envelopes for internal mail
5. Switch to recyclable paper from the general waste stream
6. Find out where you can send good quality office paper for recycling
7. Don’t destroy paper for recycling by mixing it with other materials — keep it separate
Recycling Paper Facts:
1. 77% of paper is recycled in the Netherlands, 67% in Germany, 52% in Japan and 45% of paper in the U.S
2. Recycling paper uses 60% less energy than manufacturing virgin timber paper
3. Paper had an overall recycling rate of 35.3% in 1994. About 55.3% of corrugated boxes, 45.3% of newspapers, 19.3% of books, 30% of magazines and 42.5% of office papers were recycled in.
4. About 40 million tons of paper that could be recycled is thrown away each year in the U.S
5. Recycling one ton of paper saves 682.5 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water and 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
Companies can easily incorporate paper recycling into normal business operations. Apart from office paper recycling, businesses that use and receive large quantities of packaging or generate large quantities of paper waste in a manufacturing process can recycle that waste. Encourage your employees by placing recycling bins next to their desks or in common areas. Some of the companies are already implementing the recycling programs by educating their employees to facilitate the program. Some examples:
1. Bank of America’s recycling programs grew from an initial diversion of 1,400 tons per year of computer and white paper in 1970 to divert 14,591 tons of paper in 1997. The company saved an estimated $483,000 in garbage moving costs by recycling paper. The bank has also introduced some paper usage reduction strategies like changing report procedures, reducing forms, using two-sided copying, routing slips and e-mail.
2. Hewlett Packard diverted 91 million pounds of paper waste. They recycled equal to 43 million pounds of paper which is near to 367,000 trees. HP also offers its own brand of recycled content office paper, containing 20% post-consumer recycled content. The company, along with other printer makers, has been adding additional features like ‘duplex printing’ to help the users in reducing paper usage.
3. NYNEX, a part of Bell Atlantic, recycles old phone books into payment remittance envelopes. The envelopes contain at least 75% recycled content. “By using recycled envelopes, we are creating a new, additional market for old directories,” said Ken Teal, director of Environmental Issues for NYNEX Informational Resources Co., publisher of NYNEX’s White Pages and Yellow Pages.
1. MYTH: All paper is recycled now, there’s no need to ask for it.
FACT: Even at the height of its success, recycled paper only had about 10% of the printing and writing paper market and even those papers contained mostly virgin materials. Yet more than 90% of the printing and writing paper made in this country today is still virgin paper.
2. MYTH: All paper companies are making recycled paper, so all paper must be recycled.
FACT: Most paper companies own many mills. One or two might be making recycled paper, but the rest are all making virgin paper.
3. MYTH: Recycled paper jams copiers.
FACT: Today’s recycled copier paper is high quality and technically perfected for use in copiers. The machine may need cleaning or adjusting. Try another brand of recycled paper, just as you’d try another brand of virgin paper!
4. MYTH: The little fibers in recycled paper create too much dust in machines.
FACT: Excessive dust comes not from recycled fibers but from inadequate production processes. Buy high quality recycled paper to avoid such problems.
5. MYTH: It’s better to focus on tree-free or chlorine-free papers.
FACT: “Tree-free” is a fiber source. “Chlorine-free” is a bleaching process. Recycling is a system necessary for environmental sustainability.
6. MYTH: It’s better to burn paper for energy than to recycle it.
FACT: The fibers in fine paper can be recycled up to a dozen times before becoming too short for papermaking, saving resources, water and energy, and reducing pollution each one of those times. The impact and value of these repeated savings are much greater than the minimal amount of energy produced when the paper is burned instead.
7. MYTH: Making recycled paper is environmentally damaging.
FACT: Recycled paper production saves trees, energy and water, produces less pollution, uses more benign chemicals, and requires less bleaching than virgin paper production. It also solves a community disposal problem.