Posted in March 2016, Uncategorized

Is recycling the paper really so environmentally friendly?

 

paper
Image from http://www.paperonline.org

 

Sometimes I got a feeling that the whole society thinks that paper is really not an issue anymore. No matter what, we are recycling it right? So, why so many environmentalists are still jumping on our heads and screaming that we should use both sides of the paper and use it as less as possible?

Moreover, so many organizations, corporations and individuals find themselves as extremely environmentally friendly, since they are collecting and recycling the paper. I, myself thought for a very long time that companies which are recycling the paper are doing a good job. Unfortunately, in the end of the day I found another truth.

The whole paper recycling process starts in our bins at home. If the paper is mixed with wet waste the paper probably will not be in the condition for recycling at all. But if it is segregated, waste managers will pick up your paper and it will be sorted into various categories including office paper, magazines, newspapers, paperboards and cardboards.

The recycling process shortens the fibers and cellulose can be only recycled four to six times before it become degrade paper quality. Therefore paper from each category can only be recycled into the product of lesser quality. For example, office paper gets turned into magazines, magazines into newspaper, etc. So, there is a real end for paper as well. At the paper mill factories, paper first needs to be cleaned, screened with ink removal; which involves water bath, deinking process and bleaching with peroxides to get back the brightness material. After that the renewed pulp is turned into paper.(http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/ask-pablo-it-really-better-recycle-paper.html).

As seen through the process, even recycling paper from the mills is not really environmentally friendly.

  • It is energy intensive –the pulp and paper industry is the world’s fifth largest industrial consumer of energy (According to Worldwatch institute)
  • It uses huge amount of water
  • Coatings, fillers and optical brighteners – the residue from the fillers and coatings is usually sent to landfill.
  • It generates large amount of pollutants and waste into surrounding air and water. Some of them are greenhouse gases which contribute to the global climate change. In the surroundings can effect local people and wildlife with acid rain and degradation of freshwater
  • The paper making process also generates large amounts of solid waste which must be disposed, the sludge from the fillers, coatings, wood fibres etc.

 It seems that we can find the real solution somewhere else. Vatavaran recommends:

  • reducing the use of paper and saving important natural resources.
  •  making a handmade paper  

(You want to responsible dispose your waste paper? Contact us and we will take care of it! Write to us: info@vatavaran.org)

 

Katja Polc, Member of Vatavaran team

 

 

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Author:

Vatavaran is a small organization that has decided that it simply must be hands on about the betterment of the world around us. We’re not sitting here for one issue or the other, but for fighting things that bother us in our everyday lives. Basically - we’re determined to make a difference. At the moment, we're working with Solid Waste Management, Water Conservation, our patented Recycling Scheme (WERMS), and e-waste recycling. Join us - we do hands-on work, we do simple and applicable work. We're not fancy, we're not big, we're not famous. We're just working. If you have an idea that you thing deserves to be applied in our daily lives to make a difference, come work with us. At Vatavaran, you lead your own project. It's autonomous work - your idea, your responsibility. We're just the vessel. Because we're cool like that.

One thought on “Is recycling the paper really so environmentally friendly?

  1. There is a lobby of paper mills which proudly give themselves the ‘tag’ we recycle. Unfortunately many do not know enough so take stands which can confuse the majority. Please remember recycling of paper to handmade paper and paper products is an EARTH FRIENDLY ACTIVITY.

    Category of Indian Paper Industries:

    1. Large scale (integrated units) producing over fifty thousand tons of paper a year. Each unit consumes on an average 2.5 tons of forest-based raw materials. The water consumption is 250 cubic meters per ton of paper. Their effluent is toxic.

    2. Medium- scale units producing ten to fifty thousand tons of paper a year. Forest based raw material and water consumption per ton of paper produced is the same as in the integrated units. Their affluent is also toxic.

    3. Small-scale agro-based units producing sixty to three thousand tons of paper every year. Each unit consumes an average of 3.5 tons of raw material, which is eighty- percent agro-based and twenty- percent wood pulp. Water consumption is 200 cubic meters per ton of paper produced. The effluent is toxic though less so than the first two categories.

    4. Handmade paper units producing sixty to three thousand tons of paper a year. A hand made unit uses only 1.1 ton of raw materials per ton of paper produced. Water consumption per ton is only 150 cubic meters and its affluent is non- toxic.

    There is excessive wastage of used paper –up to 900 tons a day in Delhi and all of us are responsible for it.As an example every month 1.25 crore invitation cards are coming out of card market at Chawri Bazar Delhi.

    Recycle paper in handmade paper units , it saves life. And it helps to protect our fragile life support systems. Recycling of paper, by using wastes –used paper, cotton rags and unwanted biomass –saves trees and minimizes pollution.

    Remember one tonne of handmade recycled paper saves 3 tones of wood, 100 cubic metre as of water and create Rs. 40,000 in wages.

    Recycle paper in handmade paper units , it saves life. And it helps to protect our fragile life support systems. Recycling of paper, by using wastes –used paper, cotton rags and unwanted biomass –saves trees and minimizes pollution.

    Liked by 1 person

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