Before throwing that piece of paper in the trash, consider how many trees you could save by starting a recycling program in your office or school. Even recycling newspapers and paper products at home can generate neighborhood interest and help save the earth. The advantages of recycling paper go far beyond saving trees and can start with a single piece of paper.
Recycling paper has several benefits both for humans and the earth. Using recycled paper to make new paper reduces the number of trees that are cut down, conserving natural resources. In some instances, recycling services are cheaper than trash-disposal services. Recycling paper saves landfill space and reduces the amount of pollution in the air from incineration. Businesses can promote a positive company and community image by starting and maintaining a paper-recycling program. Parents can promote a clean environment and a healthy lifestyle to their children by teaching them about the benefits of recycling paper.
Paper is divided into two different grades, referring to the quality of paper or pulp. It is ranked against other paper or pulp on the following criteria: performance, raw materials, use, appearance and manufacturing history. High-grade papers include white ledger or office paper, colored ledger paper and computer print-out paper. Other examples of paper in this grade are copy paper, letterhead and notebook paper. Low-grade papers include cardboard, newspapers, magazines and mixed office papers. Examples of mixed office paper are phone books, windowed envelopes, cards and sticky notes.
Recycling programs can cost businesses money. However, this expense is often recouped with a lower waste-disposal fee. Select a paper recycling company that meets your company's needs such as flexible hours of pickup or multiple stops each week. Provide each employee with a small paper-recycling container at his desk to begin the recycling process. Choose a location for employees and custodial staff to deposit paper for recycling. Educate the staff. Provide ample notice to employees about the recycling program. Give employees a list of different types of paper that can be recycled as a guide. Keep the staff updated on the success and positive comments of the paper-recycling program. Consider offering incentives or running a contest to encourage employee participation.
Participating in a recycling program provides savings to the environment and the public. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using recycled paper to make 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, 360 gallons of water and 60 pounds of air pollutants. Using recycled paper to manufacture new paper uses 60 percent less energy than fresh timber. According to Browning-Ferris Industries, if everyone in the United States recycled 10 percent of their newspapers, 25 million trees would be saved each year.
Recycling starts with people in their homes, schools and businesses collecting used paper and putting it out for collection. After paper is collected by a recycling company, it is transferred to a recycling center or material-recovery facility, where the paper is sorted by grades and where contaminants -- such as glass, metals and plastic -- are removed. Once sorted the paper is compacted into large bales and sent to the paper mill. At the paper mill, the paper fibers are shredded and mixed with water to make a pulp. It is then washed, refined and cleaned and made into a slush with a beater. From this point, the paper-making process is the same for recycled paper or new fibers.