Paper placed in landfill creates the green house gas methane. When recycled it saves trees, water and energy use and buying recycled paper closes the loop.
Paper recycling is commonplace in most offices today and creates meaningful environmental savings. Manufacturing paper and cardboard products from recycled material not only conserves trees, it also uses up to 50% less energy and 90% less water than making them from raw materials. Plus for every 100 reams of recycled office paper that is printed doubled sided, the savings are estimated at two trees, more than one tonne of greenhouse gases and almost a cubic metre of landfill space, compared with using 100 reams of non-recycled paper or printing single-sided. It is also important to close the loop by purchasing recycled products.
To help businesses make the switch to recycled paper, Planet Ark has teamed up with Australian Paper in the Make It Recycled partnership.
Approximately 2.3 million tonnes of paper and cardboard is recycled in Australia per year1. That's the equivalent "everyday" savings of over 10 million households' energy use for a month2.
Environmental Benefits of Commercial Recycling for Paper - Office
"Everyday" and unit savings per tonne of paper - office3 recycled:
|3,243 km driven4|
|0.67 tonnes CO2e|
|1.5 houses' energy for a month5|
|2.63 GJ LHV (731 kWh)|
|2 bath tubs6|
|0.37 kL water|
|17 wheelie bins7|
For an explanation of key terms used, please visit our Glossary.
Some local councils provide paper-recycling services for local business. If this is not available in your area, there are numerous commercial recyclers in Australia that provide this service. Most recyclers will provide a designated paper bin, which is collected regularly. Some companies also safely remove and recycle confidential paper material.
Check out our Case Study of a business that found paper recycling solutions for their office.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
Recycling paper begins by breaking down the product, chemically or mechanically, to free the fibres and create pulp. The pulp is re-manufactured into paper products in a similar way to first production paper. The waste products left over from the recycling process (ink, short fibres and plastics) are either sent to landfill, burnt for energy or used as fertilizer.
Paper can be recycled into many things including office paper, packaging, toilet paper, egg cartons, soundproofing, furniture and cardboard. Paper can be recycled up to eight times and then it is turned into organic waste and breaks down.
More info and resources
1. Hyder Consulting (2009) Waste and Recycling in Australia: Amended report. Hyder Consulting, Melbourne, p. 8
2. Calculation using average of data for all paper and cardboard types (for kerbside and all commercial recycling) as contained in Table 4 (p.14) Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW (2010) Environmental Benefits of Recycling, DECCW, Sydney South
3. Data from 'Office Paper' (Commercial & Industrial and Construction & Demolition recycling only) contained in Table 4 (p.14) Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW (2010) Environmental Benefits of Recycling, DECCW, Sydney South
4. “Everyday” greenhouse gas emission savings expressed as number of kilometers driven by an average new passenger and light commercial vehicle (206.6g CO2e / km). National Transport Commission (2012) Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2011 Information Paper
5. “Everyday” cumulative energy demand savings expressed as average household monthly electricity requirements (500 kWh). 1GJ LHV = 278kWh (GJ LHV = Giga-joules of fossil energy (low heating value); kWh = Kilowatt hour)
6. “Everyday” water savings corresponding to average sized bath tubs (0.175 kL capacity).
7. “Everyday” solid waste savings represented by number of average sized wheelie bins (55kg capacity)