Recycling Facts

Does recycling save trees?
No. Recycling saves landfill space. Every ton of paper recovered for recycling is a ton that doesnít go to the landfill. Recycling also allows maximum use of the valuable resource without waste. Because fiber can only be recycled 5-7 times before the fibers are too weak to make new products, it will always be necessary to harvest trees for new fiber.

How many times can a piece of paper be recycled?
It is important for consumers to keep in mind, however, that recovered paper fibers can not be recycled indefinitely. Papermaking fibers can typically be recycled 5-7 times before they become too short to be recycled again. Paper fiber eventually breaks down into short, weak fibers that are not strong enough to be recycled into new paper products. For this reason, it is necessary for the paper industry to harvest new fiber that can be infused into the recycled paper manufacturing process.

What products can be recycled?
Virtually all clean paper is recyclable. It is important, however, to keep paper free from contaminants such as food, adhesives, wax, glass, plastics and metal that may damage the fiber or compromise its quality. Paper that canít be recycled must be composted, burned or as a last resort landfilled.

What can be made from recovered paper?
Most recovered paper is recycled back into paper and paperboard products that are generally a grade similar to or of lower quality than the original product. For example, old corrugated boxes are used to make new recycled corrugated boxes. Recycled paper is also used to make thing such as animal bedding, kitty litter and insulation. Many packaging materials are also made from recycled products.

Does most of the paper manufactured in the U.S. come from whole trees?
No. It is not considered economical to use large logs for paper when they could instead be used to lumber. For this reason, only trees smaller than 8 inches in diameter or large trees that have some defect and are not suitable for solid wood products are used in papermaking. In fact, about one third of the raw material used to make paper in the U.S. comes from recovered paper and wood chips and other residues left behind from sawmill operations. Another third of the raw material is recovered paper.

Does cutting down trees for papermaking lead to deforestation?
No. Deforestation is the permanent clearing of trees. Forest products companies not only allow trees to grow back but actually encourage new growth by replanting and caring for trees and by creating forest land in areas where they previously did not exist.

How much of a tree is used after it is harvested?
Virtually all of the tree is used. The portion of the trunk with a diameter 8 inches or larger is used to make lumber and building materials. The remaining wood is recovered in the form of trimming and wood chips and is used to make paper. The natural chemicals within the wood chips are recovered and made into may products such as food, plastics, detergents and turpentine. The bark of the tree is ground or chipped to make garden mulch or burned for energy to run the paper mill. Leaves, needles and small branches are generally left in the forest to replenish the soil organic matter. This also helps prevent runoff from the forest floor.

How much paper do we use?
Every year Americans use an average of 700 pounds of paper products per person.