There’s a reason why humanity tries to cut down on paper use. Whether we’re talking about written press, books or paper-based services such as photography, mail or faxing, they are all being replaced by electronic and/or online alternatives.
Paper production, consumption and waste have a huge impact on the environment and our planet. Paper mills pollute the land, air and water of the Earth. Here are some facts you may not know about paper and its effects:
- Approximately 40$ of the waste in landfill sites in the US is paper
- Research shows that in 2015, the pulp and paper industry in the US was responsible for approx. 5% of all industrial pollutant releases in the US, of which ‘66% was released into the air, 10% into water and 24% onto lands’, according to Wikipedia
- Paper consumption has increased by 400% in the last 40 years, globally
- Almost half of all the cut timber worldwide is used to produce paper
- In order to satisfy our need of paper, more than 30 million acres of forest are destroyed every year. US only uses almost 70 million trees annually just for paper production and paper products
- In order to produce paper, you have to use huge amounts of water. In fact, the paper industry uses the highest quantity of water of all industries, in order to make a ton of product. You have to use 10 liters of water just to make an A4 paper sheet
- Paper waste is also responsible for methane emissions, a greenhouse gas. When paper rots, it emits this gas, just as when it is burned, it emits carbon dioxide
- The paper industry is responsible for destroying a high percentage of the tropical forests
- US is in top 20 most ‘paper friendly’ countries in the world, next to China, Canada, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy and others. The United Kingdom is lower in this ranking
- The average office employee in the US uses around 10,000 sheets of paper annually, of which almost half ends up in the trash bin
- Paper production uses toxic substances such as chlorine-based bleaches, which are really harmful for the soil and water
- By 2020, paper mills will be responsible for producing 500 million tons of paper every year, which makes the paper industry the third most air-polluting industry in the world
- In 2006, more than 6.5 million trees were cut just for making coffee paper cups for US consumers (around 16 billion paper cups, according to Wikipedia)
- By recycling a ton of paper you can save 17 trees and more than 26 thousands liters of water. But while Netherlands recycles almost 80% of all its paper, US is way behind, with just 45%.