In the U.S. we use an enormous amount of paper on daily basis. From newspapers and wrapping paper, to exercise books and toilet paper, we consume it at a frightening rate. Computers have helped ease this burden a little as a lot of information is now stored on disc, but the amount of paper used is rising every year. The American Forest and Paper Association has joined forces with the Environmental Protection Agency to commit to recycling as much paper as possible.
Can they be recycled?
Yes, paper can be recycled. And the people of the U.S. are becoming more and more accustomed to doing so, with over 56% of all paper being recycled in 2007 and a goal being set for 60% by 2012. Since 1994, more paper has been recycled than has gone into landfill. But none of us should become complacent even though these figures are very good. There is always more each of us can do to ensure that we always recycle paper, and donâ€™t just toss it in the trash.
All towns and cities offer paper recycling facilities. If you are unsure of the closest to where you live, visit www.earth911.com and enter your zip code for options close to your address.
What are the possibilities for the recycled material?
One thing we should all do with the paper we use is to make sure we have made as much use out of it as possible before it goes into the recycling bin. For example, unwanted paper printouts can be turned over and the blank side used as scrap paper. If you have animals, think about shredding your scrap paper and using this as bedding; perfect for small household pets like gerbils and hamsters, or can even be used to bed chickens.
Consider printing with smaller margins. This means you get more words per page and therefore use less paper. If you have a log fire, then why not buy a paper brick maker to compress old newspapers into â€˜logsâ€™ of an ideal size for burning.
When paper is recycled, it is used to create more paper. Most of the paper mills in the U.S. all use a substantial amount of recycled paper to create new paper, and around 140 use only recycled paper. There is also substantial demand from overseas for scrap paper.
But what about the resources used in the recycling process?
The benefits of recycling paper far outweigh that of the recycling process. Indeed, by recycling the paper mills cut down on much of their greenhouse gas emissions, and also have need of less virgin wood. This means fewer trees are cut down and therefore less carbon is released into the atmosphere. Recycling paper also saves on the use of a huge amount of landfill area.