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5 Surprising Green Facts about Paper

Think using paper is unsustainable? Find out how paper production is greener than you think

We’re often told to avoid printing and use digital media for advertising to save paper. Trees are a precious resource that contribute to producing oxygen, storing carbon and give wildlife a home. But using paper can be surprisingly sustainable. Here are some green facts about paper that you may not have heard.

1. More trees are planted by the paper industry than are felled

Made from trees but a natural resource that can be managed. It is a highly certified and regulated industry. Sustainable paper in Europe is made from fast-growing eucalyptus trees that are fully managed to ensure maximum sustainability. In fact, the net annual growth in forests is 2% per year from 2005 - 2020.

2. Other waste streams are more polluting than paper

Paper production obviously has a carbon footprint, but it is one of the most sustainable industries. Paper has one of the best recovery rates, with around 74% of the paper used being recycled in the UK. Alternatively, 60% of e-waste was recycled in the UK in 2021. The UK is the second largest producer of e-waste in the world. Plastic waste is also a growing problem for the UK as much of our plastic is sent away to be recycled. Currently only 43.8% of plastic is recycled in the UK.

3. Paper production has many eco credentials

The paper industry has the lowest greenhouse gas emission of industries - 0.8% of European emissions. It is a highly regulated industry. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has strict principles to follow to be certified. The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) cares for forests by promoting sustainable forest management and the Rainforest Alliance also protect forests and promotes sustainable forestry across the globe.

4. Paper production uses less water than you think

It’s a fact that gallons of water are used to produce paper. But the water used during production can be re-used up to 10 times. It is used to cool machinery then filtered to be returned to waterways. Up to 90% of the water used is recycled. Planting trees helps prevent flooding, with trees absorbing between 10 and 150 gallons of water daily.

5. Paper production produces little waste

Producing paper is less wasteful than you think. During production, all of the tree is used - the sawdust, forest sawdust, chippings, water, residual pulp – nothing is wasted. Bark and chippings are often used to generate electricity to power machinery and water is filtered and recycled to cool machinery.

How you can minimise the environmental impact of paper in the workplace

It’s almost impossible to completely avoid using paper. If you do, try to make responsible choices.

Choose recycled paper

The quality of recycled paper today means there is no compromising on quality, with many brands now comparable with virgin paper.

Use FSC managed paper

If you do need to purchase virgin paper, make sure you look for the papers that are FSC managed, meaning the forests are replenished for sustainable paper production.

Recycle the paper you use

As we’ve mentioned, paper is one of the easiest products to recycle and it’s so easy to do so. Ensure you have a dedicated paper and cardboard recycling bin to handle your non-confidential paper waste and encourage all employees to recycle.

Using paper packaging

Cardboard has an excellent recovery rate. Choosing paper-based packaging is far better than plastic for the environment, plus it’s durable and long-lasting. Re-use any suitable cardboard packaging you receive.

Find a huge range of all types of paper and card to suit your requirements on our website.

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