The environmental benefits of paper recycling are many. Paper recycling:
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that can contribute to climate change by avoiding methane emissions and reducing energy required for a number of paper products.
- Extends the fiber supply and contributes to carbon sequestration.
- Saves considerable landfill space.
- Reduces energy and water consumption.
- Decreases the need for disposal (i.e., landfill or incineration which decreases the amount of CO2 produced).
On the other hand, when trees are harvested for papermaking, carbon is released, generally in the form of carbon dioxide. When the rate of carbon absorption exceeds the rate of release, carbon is said to be “sequestered.” This carbon sequestration reduces greenhouse gas concentrations by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Recycling one ton of paper would:
- Save enough energy to power the average American home for six months.
- Save 7,000 gallons of water.
- Save 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton of carbon equivalent (MTCE).
- Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: Facts and Figures
- Abitibi Paper Retriever
- Energy Information Administration Kid’s Page
- US EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM)