industrial paper manufacturing affects the environment in both directions of the process: in obtaining and processing raw materials and in the accumulation of waste materials. Recycling obviously reduces both impacts. The used paper that is recycled does not become garbage, but rather raw material. It is estimated that recycling one ton of newsprint saves the consumption of approximately one ton of wood, while recycling one ton of printer paper can save up to two tons of wood consumption. But has energy been saved?

The difference in energy consumption

The answer is simply YES. Recycling paper reduces net energy consumption compared to manufacturing directly from wood, although different sources give different data on the amount of energy saved. The Energy Information Administrationa US public body, states in its International Energy Outlook 2013 report that recycling paper significantly reduces energy consumption and can use up to 40% less than paper production from non-recycled pulp.

According to Bureau of International Recycling, energy savings could reach 65% together with a 35% reduction in water pollution and 74% less air pollution. According to his calculations, recycling a ton of paper consumes 4,000 KWh less energy and avoids burning that paper, which would produce 750 kilos of carbon dioxide. In the case of cardboard recycling, up to 75% less energy would be used than in the manufacture of new cardboard.

The net difference in energy consumption is actually less, since a large part of the energy used in the manufacture of paper comes from biomass generated in the process itself, such as leftover wood, lignin and other waste materials that are used to generate biomass. . It is estimated that the energy obtained from this biomass could reach 2,500 KWh per ton of paper manufactured.

The difference in felling trees

Talking about the number of trees that are avoided to fell does not make much sense, although it is a widely used resource for public awareness and education purposes. The size of the tree determines the amount of paper that can be made from it, and the size of trees varies greatly from tree to tree, but especially between different species used in different regions for papermaking. But, nevertheless, it is evident that recycling paper avoids cutting down trees.

There are programs for self-regenerating tree plantations specifically for the manufacture of paper. These forests are called second generation, or third and more, depending on the number of times regenerated. Currently it is estimated that the paper made from this source of wood reaches around 80%. The Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certify the paper manufactured following the so-called good forestry practices. According to these organizations, recycling half of the world’s paper would prevent the felling of 81,000 kmtwo of forest.

The numbers are clear, so don’t think about it and recycle. You will contribute your grain of sand to reduce energy consumption, water and air pollution and preserve the forests that are so precious and necessary for life.