It doesn’t matter if you roll out of bed and barefoot it over to your PC to start you workday or if you work outside of the home, you can help save forests by making better choices about your paper use. As unbelievable as it may seem in a time when more people and businesses are going green, old-growth trees are still being clear-cut for paper products.
According to current estimates, American businesses generate enough paper every day to circle the earth more than 40 times. That’s about one and a half pounds of waste paper per employee each day. And yet some 77% of office waste paper is recyclable.
Recycled paper = saved energy
Making new paper from office waste paper uses 30% to 55% less energy than making paper from trees and reduces related greenhouse gas and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions by as much as 95%.
More than 40% of waste going to the landfill is made up of commercial and office paper waste. Eliminating this by recycling office waste paper could nearly double the longevity of current landfills. According to EPA estimates, recycling one ton of paper also spares the lives of 17 mature trees, saves 7,000 gallons of water, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s enough to heat, power, and provide water for the average U.S. household for five months.
When Walpole, a City in Massachusetts, recently set a goal to increase its total tonnage of recycled material to more than 2,000 tons in 2008, city officials immediately realized the easiest place to start was with paper products. Said a city official, “We want people and businesses to recycle as much paper as they can. It’s not just printer and other office papers, or newspapers, but corrugated boxes, file folders, envelopes, ledger papers, even spiral notebooks.”
Still a long way to go
Yet despite such statistics and efforts by cities and towns nationwide, many businesses have yet to initiate a paper-recycling program. And that’s a shame, according to Ron Novas, Executive VP of Miami Waste Paper recycling firm. Says Ron, “Implementing a paper and cardboard recycling program is really quite simple and an effective program that can not only pay for itself, but can also become a revenue stream for a business.”
Andrea Asch, manager of natural resources for Ben & Jerry’s would have to agree with Novas. She says, “While eliminating waste at the source is a nice incentive, our recycling program brings in almost $100,000 annually.”