The Recyclability Equation

The latest issue of Down To Earth (IP's look at environmental issues and trends) is out. It asks the question "How do you fit in the recyclability equation?" At first I am thinking, ok aren't we all pretty well versed on recycling by now? Then I am reminded by how many misconceptions are out there. For those looking for quick primer on paper recyclability - this is it.

Did you know that paper can be recycled up to seven times? That's because it's a natural product to begin with and the technology that exists is able to recover, reporcess, and remanufacture wastepaper for use in new products - making it both green and economical. In 2009, 63.4% of all paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycling? Compare that to the 18% for tv's and computers and a mere 10% for cell phones.

Not every piece of paper can be recycled, for office and business papers to be recovered successfully depends on how everyone in the chain cooperates - from how its manufactured and converted, to the the types of inks used in printing, the amount of non-paper objects that go into recycling bins and the way paper is collected and sorted - all of these effect the efficiency of the recycling process. Not to mention the costs associated with recycled fiber. Right now demand is extremely high - The Chinese market alone is over 60 million tons a year and is project to be at 90 million tons annually by 2014. And demand isn't the only thing that makes recycled fiber so costly - the transportation involved to recover fiber to the mill often costs more because it travels up to fives times farther that new (virgin) fiber - not to mention the higher CO2 emmissions.

Types of paper products suitable for recycling:
Computer paper and higher grade office papers
Pulp substitutes
Corrugated paper
Catalogs and magazines
Direct mail, envelopes, unsorted household mail and office mail
Paper made from mechanical pulp or non-kraft pulp
Paper bags

To learn more or request the current copy of DOWN TO EARTH, go to DoYouKnowTheFacts.

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