The good news is that, in North America, our efforts to make our forests more sustainable has had some positive effects, including the formation of groups and organizations like the Forestry Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative, that have reduced the environmental impact of the pulp and paper industry on our forests – though we’re still losing our forests a an alarming rate.
The not so good news is that our forests are just one part of the environment affected by the production of paper. And, just in case you were looking for more bad news, the paperless office that so many predicted following the digitization of business hasn’t materialized. In the U.S., businesses still consume 12.1 trillion sheets of paper every year.
The problem is compounded by the increased use of paper in emerging markets. For many North American paper producers, growth markets are all abroad.
So, while trees were the poster child for reducing our dependence on paper, the problem still exists and it affects far more than our forests. Here are some numbers that highlight the problem of our ever-increasing paper waste:
- 6 million – tonnes of paper and paper and paperboard used annually in Canada
- 25% – portion of paper and paperboard waste that is recycled in Canada. In the U.S., 45% of paper is recycled. In Japan, 52%. In Germany, 67%. In The Netherlands, 77%
- 4% – the portion of the world’s total energy use attributed to the pulp and paper industry worldwide
- Third – the place among all industries held by pulp and paper as a polluter of air, water and land in Canada and the U.S.
- 650 litres – the amount of fresh water used to make a standard 500-sheet package of 8.5 x 11 paper
- 60% – the reduction in energy usage to recycle paper versus manufacture new paper.
- 3,000 Litres of Oil; 26,000 Litres of Water; 3.3 Cubic Yards of Landfill – How much of each resource is saved by recycling one ton of paper.
- 3 – the number of people every tree keeps alive due to oxygen production.
So from reducing air and water pollution, to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels like oil, recycling paper in your business does a lot more than save our forests! (But that’s a great reason too.)