Recycling paper seems to be an unquestionable no-brainer around the home and office. With the vast amounts of paper that are discarded daily, it is far better to put it in the hands of the recycling moguls rather than the decrepit landfills. Industrial nations’ usage of paper increases at a steady annual rate, accounting for an estimated 20% of all the waste a household produces. But no “pro” is ever without its “con”…
On the one hand, recycling paper uses up 40% less energy compared to producing it from scratch. But as with any industrial process there are downsides. Primarily, paper degrades each time it is recycled. As such, there exists a limit to the amount of times paper can be recycled. However, there are now implementations in place that allow farmers to use paper at the end of its recyclable life as fertiliser and soil improver.
Furthermore, during the recycling process, companies combine the pulp with chemicals and water to remove the ink. Depending on the circumstances, recycling a ton of paper can result in 5000 more gallons of polluted waste-water than manufacturing new paper. As a result, traces of cadmium and lead can start to appear in the water supply.
In spite of this, the consequences of using landfill and incineration rather than recycling appear even more substantial. Decomposing landfill matter produces infamous methane gases which are responsible for the depletion of the o-zone layer. The global warming potential of methane is 25 times higher than that of carbon dioxide.
What can we do?
There are some very easy ways to reduce your environmental footprint when it comes to paper. Firstly, don’t use your home or office printer excessively and try to print on both sides of a sheet of paper; this will ensure that personal paper consumption is practically halved. Secondly, if you’re not purchasing recycled paper, try to source retailers or manufacturers who promote sustainably managed forests, just like Pillarbox. Each of our printed envelopes feature a combination of recyclable paper and bio-degradable inks.