There are so many myths about the benefits of recycling and whether we should be living a more sustainable existence, especially when it comes to paper. So here are some facts*:
For every ton of paper used for recycling the savings are estimated as:
At least 3000 liters of water
3000 - 4000 kWh electricity (enough electricity for a whole 3 bed house for one year)
95% of air pollution
In 2003/2004 papers accounted for almost one third of all household waste. This all has to be buried somewhere unless we recycle. As is rots, it releases methane - a very potent greenhouse gas. As each household disposes of approximately 4kgs of paper a week (UK total – 224 million kgs of paper a week = 11’648 million kgs a year) that’s a lot of methane!
It is claimed that recycling paper involves dangerous bleaching processes. Whilst they may exist in some places this is often a misconception. Most recycled paper is not bleached, and where it is necessary, oxygen based products rather than chlorine are applied. This reduces the amount of dioxins, which are released into the environment as a by-product of chlorine bleaching processes. Besides, how did the paper become white in the first place - have you ever seen a white tree?!
The recycling process uses considerably less energy because the main energy consumption involves turning the wood into pulp. By recycling, the paper is much more easily turned into pulp. Some estimates are up to 70% less energy consumed by the paper mills.
We here at The Tiny Box Company love trees and tree felling saddens us. But by chopping down such huge quantities of trees, there are huge environmental and wildlife impacts. We will always need trees and unfortunately you can only recycle a limited number of times (the fibre threads shrink too much in length after 4-6 times of being recycled), we can still save a considerable amount of trees as well as the natural inhabitants that live within the forests. And not forgetting the oxygen generating benefits of trees.
* We ‘borrowed’ these facts from the lovely people at www.wasteonline.org.uk