We felt the need to research into our topic choice which was recycling paper to get a much more better understanding on the subject. These are some of the statistics that we found.

  • 1 tree = approx. 8333 A4 sheets of paper
  • 53% of paper gets recycled = approx. 4416
  • Paper in the U.S. represents one of the biggest components of solid waste in landfills – 26 million tons (or 16% of landfill solid waste) in 2009

We found a video that explained how easy and beneficial recycling paper is for the environment which all sounded good, but is it actually?

We know for a fact that recycling paper isn’t as good as it sounds and have even been told by a few paper companies. Here are some facts that drop paper recycling back down to reality.


Recycling paper saves energy, reduces pollution, preserves trees and conserves landfill space, but it is a messy process that uses caustic chemicals and produces harmful byproducts and emissions. The industry is making strides in the development of more earth-friendly techniques, but the best way to reduce paper-related pollution and energy use is to cut back on paper consumption, which will decrease the demand for new or recycled paper.

Energy Use

Although recycling paper saves 28 to 70 percent–depending on the facility–of the energy used for making virgin paper, this savings is controversial because of the type of energy used in these two processes. Paper recycling uses fossil fuels while the production process for virgin paper fibre employs waste products from timber to supply a high percentage of its energy requirements. Moreover, recycled paper is less energy-friendly than plastic. The paper bag recycling process uses 98 percent more energy than that for recycled plastic bags.

Harmful Chemicals

The paper recycling process requires the removal of inks from the used paper. Recycling facilities use different processes and the chemicals they employ range from detergents to caustic chemicals, such as chlorine. Print from copy machines and laser printers is particularly problematic because it is not really ink but rather a plastic polymer that the printer or copier burns onto the paper. Removal requires chemicals that are much more caustic than standard de-inking chemicals. Similarly, printing inks contain heavy metals and other compounds that require strong solvents.

Water Pollution

When recycling facilities remove inks from paper, the waste makes its way into the water stream. Metals from printing inks, including copper, lead, zinc, chromium and cadmium, enter the water stream. Wastewater from paper recycling often contains dioxins as well, though experts are unable to determine their precise origin.

All of this information is sourced from livestrong.com.