Environmentally friendly, or eco-friendly paper, is growing in popularity with the increased awareness of the negative effects standard paper production has on our environment. Whether we’re opening a newspaper, taking notes or printing off documents, it’s very easy not to think of the environmental repercussions of our everyday use of paper. With traditional methods of paper production requiring freshly cut trees to be pulped, there are far-reaching impacts that are too easily ignored, from the loss of animal habitat to the release of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Eco-friendly paper comes in two forms; recycled paper and FSC paper. Both rely on more environmentally conscious methods of production. But how does recycling paper help the environment and what is FSC paper? We’ve looked at these two forms of eco-friendly paper in more detail.
How to Recycle Paper
Recycling paper is one of the most effective ways of reducing the environmental impact of paper production and creating tree-free paper. Many of us will have recycling bins provided at home and work, but how is recycled paper made? From your recycling bin back to your home, it’s a relatively simple process.
- Paper is taken from recycling bins and placed together in large containers.
- The waste paper is taken from these containers to large recycling plants where it is processed and separated into types.
- The paper is washed in order to remove any ink, staples, glue or other contaminants. At this point, it is mixed with water to create a slurry.
- The slurry forms the basis of many different paper products. Different additives are used depending on the type of paper being made – for example, cardboard and newspaper include different elements.
- Once the slurry has been treated, it is made into thin sheets and left to dry.
- Once it’s dried out, the recycled paper can be cut up and distributed to be used again.
The process of recycling paper is relatively simple but relies on people taking the time to make sure they use recycling bins and avoid contamination with other products.
What is Made out of Recycled Paper?
Having been through the recycling process, paper can be turned into many different things and re-used.
- Printer paper
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Greetings cards
These are some of the most common uses of recycled paper, however, there are many other everyday products that are made from recycled paper.
Can Shredded Paper be Recycled?
These days, most offices and many homes own a paper shredder. These allow confidential waste to be safely disposed of without the risk of data breach. When it comes to recycling, this can cause some confusion. So, can shredded paper be recycled?
The simple answer is yes, but only in certain circumstances. Shredded paper is notoriously difficult to recycle as the process cuts the fibres of the paper into short lengths. They also run the risk of becoming a hazard as such small strands of paper can get stuck in the machinery.
If you do wish to recycle your shredded paper, it’s best to check with your local recycling centre, they may ask you to bag it up. Alternatively, it can be put to other use as compost or bedding for small animals.
Can Receipt Paper Be Recycled?
A lot of paper receipts are made using thermal paper, which is coated in potentially harmful and contaminating substances. This means that you are best keeping your receipts out of the recycling to avoid contaminating other recyclables.
How Does Recycling Paper Help the Environment?
There are several reasons why recycled eco-friendly paper is better for the environment.
During the manufacturing process of virgin paper, this being paper made directly from trees and including no recycled material, much more energy is used. Emissions released as a result of felling and transporting trees, then manufacturing the paper are much higher than that of recycling used paper, releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Producing virgin paper also requires a lot more water, roughly 50% more than the production of recycled paper.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, recycling one tonne of paper can save between 15 and 17 trees. This has far-reaching benefits for the environment, as trees produce oxygen and help to remove contaminants from the air.
The environmental impact of landfill sites, and the amount of space left in them is a cause for concern. Considering the fact that any waste products that can’t be recycled end up here, the impact of recycling on these sites could be huge. It’s estimated that recycling one tonne of paper can save 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
FSC Vs Recycled Paper
FSC paper and recycled paper are both environmentally responsible options when choosing paper products. There’s no correct decision to make, here’s some information about FSC paper to help you decide if it’s right for you.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an environmental organisation that ensures the protection of our world’s forests and their inhabitants. So, what is FSC paper? This type of paper usually carries the official FSC stamp on the packaging and is made using virgin wood fibres. FSC paper is all sourced from well-managed forests, meaning that it’s eco-friendly and sustainable. The FSC plays an important role in making sure the manufacturers of this paper are environmentally and socially responsible, enforcing strict guidelines. There are three levels of certification:
- FSC 100% – This paper is completely from FSC-certified forests.
- FSC Recycled Paper – All of the paper here is from re-used material.
- FSC Mix – This means the wood used is either from an FSC-certified forest, recycled material or controlled wood.
Can FSC Mix Paper Be Recycled?
In short, yes. Some FSC certified products, such as FSC recycled paper, have already been recycled but that doesn’t mean they can’t be again. Any time you use paper it can be recycled. It’s often said that paper has a life-cycle of seven, in that it can be recycled and used again seven times before the fibres become too short, but that isn’t for the user to worry about.
Recycling paper should be important to everyone, whether you’re in an office using reams of printer paper or just throwing out old newspapers at home, the environmental impact of recycling plays an important part in helping our planet survive and thrive.