Why do we recycle paper? Although some of the benefits of paper recycling will be clear to you already, not everyone is clear on just how important an issue this is. Most of us understand that it is helpful to the environment, but in what ways exactly?
When paper gets recycled it preserves natural resources, saving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeps landfill space free from other types of waste that can’t be recycled. Paper is one of the easiest materials to recycle so it’s really a no brainer!
In the UK, we recycle around 80% of the paper that we use. However, we’re still cutting down more than 4 billion trees each year worldwide just to make paper. Whilst we’ve progressed in terms of the amount we recycle, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Benefits of Paper Recycling
Let’s consider some of the benefits of paper recycling a little more closely.
For every 1 ton of paper a business recycles, it can save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space and 4,000 kilowatts of energy – enough to power the average home for six months. As mentioned before, each ton of paper that's recycled reduces greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton of carbon equivalent (MTCE).
By reducing the energy needed to cut down trees and produce new paper, recycling helps to conserve non-renewable energy sources. The world's supplies of coal, gas and oil are finite, and the amount we have left is rapidly running out. It takes 70% less energy to recycle than to produce new paper, so we should choose to recycle wherever possible.
As well as the environmental and energy-saving advantages of recycling paper, it offers health-related benefits. Paper production increases the levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and also generates a lot of pollution – reducing the amount we produce helps to cut down the amount of smog in nearby areas, which has a positive effect on our respiratory health.
The amazing thing about paper is that it can be recycled more than just once. However, every time it is recycled the fibre becomes shorter and weaker. In most cases, paper can be recycled up to seven times before it must be discarded.
Our top tips to encourage your staff to recycle paper
- Create a green office policy for guidance on reducing, reusing, and recycling office waste. The policy can focus on reducing consumption, for instance a policy for setting all printers to default double-sided printing or placing all cardboard and paper waste in recycling bins/consoles. Either use paper cups that can be recycled or encourage staff to bring their own travel mugs.
- Use a shredding provider for your document destruction that has a secure chain of custody including secure shredding consoles and guaranteed paper recycling. This is probably the easiest way to ensure your paper is being recycled and at the same time knowing your confidential waste is being destroyed securely. The process is hassle-free as you don’t need to remove staples, binders, or paperclips before recycling as the shredding provider will sort this all out for you.
- Share monthly or quarterly stats with your employees on how much paper they have recycled. This will motivate and remind them to keep recycling their waste as it’s having a positive impact on the business and the environment. If you use a professional shredding company to handle your paper waste, they will be able to provide you with environmental certificates for your business that shows how many trees, etc have been saved. These certificates are great to hang up in the office and show visitors your contribution to the environment.
- Train each department to have good practices by integrating recycling into every department. Ensure managers are teaching and setting a good example for how to handle paper waste. Provide each room with a paper waste bin or secure shredding console so employees don’t have to look far to dispose of their paper documents.
- Know the importance of information security when recycling paper and communicate this to all your employees. Anything that has confidential information, for instance invoices, contracts, customer data and employee data, needs to be securely shredded. If these paper documents are not shredded, then you can open your business up for data theft and fines. Consider shredding all your paper waste as this ensures all confidential data is destroyed and the paper is recycled.
How we can help
Shredall SDS Group ensures that 100% of the paper waste we destroy is recycled. Recycling paper is an important element in most businesses sustainability plans and when handled correctly, you’re helping the environment and boosting your security.
We can provide businesses with environmental certificates and certificates of destruction to prove you are keeping your data safe and helping the environment. We are committed to making sure that none of that paper goes to landfill, so we pack it into enormous bales and transport it to our paper recycling partners, who take care of the recycling process. Get in touch today to schedule a one-off or scheduled service.