Tag Archives: paper

Paper: The ultimate sustainable resource

There is a lot being said these days about the negative effects that paper and direct mail have on our environment.  But let’s take a closer look at the facts rather than the rhetoric:  There aren’t many industries that are genuinely sustainable.  However, the paper industry is inherently sustainable.  The paper and forest industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of our forests by planting 1.7 million trees every single day – that is more than 3 times what is harvested.

Paper is biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable.  Nearly 60% of all paper in the U.S. is recycled and more than 63% of the fiber used to make new paper comes from recycled sources.  Compare those numbers to the recycling of electronics:  Only 18% of all electronic devices are currently recycled.  More than 2 million tons of electronic devices were disposed of in U.S. landfills in 2008.  Computers and other electronics don’t grow on trees.

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Facts about paper and the environment

With the focus of environmental groups on Do Not Mail campaigns, it is a good opportunity to arm ourselves with some facts about paper and the environment. For example, according to the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI);

  • The cutting down of trees for papermaking does not lead to deforestation. Deforestation is the permanent clearing of trees for purposes such as creating farmland and pastureland, for commercial and residential development, or for any other use for which trees are cut and not allowed to grow back. Unfortunately, deforestation is occurring in many parts of the world, especially in the tropics. This deforestation is mainly due to population pressure. In most of these cases, forests are cut down and burned for domestic fuel (heating homes and cooking) or to clear land for farming.
  • Only about 17% of the 3.3 billion cubic meters of wood consumed worldwide each year is for papermaking, and much of this wood is in the form of wood chips and other residue left behind from sawmill operations. Over half of the wood harvested in the world is used for fuel, mostly for cooking and domestic heating.
  • Most of the raw material used in paper manufacturing in the U.S. does not come from whole trees. Over half comes from recovered paper and the wood waste (such as wood chips and sawdust) left behind from lumber manufacturing.

You can find more facts about paper and the environment at the TAPPI website at (http://www.tappi.org/paperu).