One of the most popular uses for paper in the industry is printing. Every year, around 100 million tons of paper is used for printing in the US, a much higher number than what was seen during the start of the millennium. However, with the spreading awareness of global warming and the need for greener alternatives, companies are finding ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly, one of which involves using recycled printing paper.
Why use recycled printing paper?
Every day, thousands of trees across the globe are chopped down to extract pulp for making paper. The average time taken for just one tree is around 30 years, and the time taken to chop one is a mere few minutes. With the increased deforestation across the globe to produce paper, we are not only losing a precious supplier of oxygen, but also the habitat for several species of wildlife. Although the world is switching to electronic media, the use of printing paper in the industry is still quite common and is expected to remain that way for several years.
Once the paper is used up, it likely ends up in landfills with the rest of the trash, whereas just a small portion of that paper actually gets recycled. Although the paper itself does naturally decompose because it’s made from organic matter, leaving it in landfills is a waste of a scarce resource that can be reused.
Recycled printing paper allows the paper to get that “second life” in the industry. The used paper goes through one of two different treatment processes, both of which involve pulping and de-inking. The first process uses chlorine compounds to bleach the pulp, whereas the second method uses dispersion to dissolve the ink into the pulp. Printing paper is usually white, so companies rather prefer recycled paper that has been bleached by chlorine, as the pulp which goes through dispersion isn’t completely white after treatment.
Benefits of using recycled printing paper
Apart from the obvious (that is, saving trees), recycling paper, in general, helps reduce the amount of paper that ends up in landfills. With fewer trees being cut, the amount of pollution being produced is also greatly reduced. Trees help regulate the air composition and supply vital oxygen needed for all living beings, therefore the reduction of trees being used to create pulp also results in a better supply of oxygen especially in areas with a low air quality index.
Using recycled printing paper also reduces the consumption of water as it only requires 20 percent of water compared to manufacturing virgin paper. Recycling paper also helps reduce energy costs for the manufacturer, since treating paper for recycling uses up about 70 percent less energy compared to creating paper from scratch. This energy can be useful elsewhere, and since most of our energy today is still produced using fossil fuels, the less we use, the more eco friendly we can be.
One benefit that using recycled printing paper brings to companies is the ability to market themselves as a greener business. Customers in all industries prefer that the companies they buy their products or services from actively contribute towards a greener environment. Therefore, being a sustainable business is no longer a choice but a necessity for companies (Here’s a list of dead easy tips on how to make your business more sustainable).
Recycled paper over the past few years has grown to become very popular and economical. Several years ago, recycled paper was a scarce commodity and many manufacturers would charge companies and individual customers premium prices due to the high treatment costs as well as market scarcity. Thankfully though, healthy competition, as well as reduced costs of treatment, have allowed manufacturers to reduce the costs of recycled printing paper, and companies can now buy the paper at the same price as that of virgin paper.
The (small) catch…
Although recycled printing paper is an environmentally friendly alternative that helps save trees, reduce pollution and lower energy consumption, it isn’t all smiles when it comes to being sustainable. There is a small catch when it comes to manufacturing recycled printing paper specifically.
Since paper is preferred to be white for printing, this paper undergoes treatment using chlorine-based chemicals. Chlorine is especially harmful when washed away, causing damage to the soil as well as marine life in terms of lower reproductivity and higher mortality rates.
Thankfully, some companies have started using regulated amounts of chlorine to treat the used paper and are disposing of waste properly instead of dumping them into the ocean. However, this practice still remains uncommon and many recycling plants cut costs by ignoring the vital step of disposing waste sustainably.
Should you buy recycled printing paper?
Without a shadow of a doubt, whether you are an individual buying paper for your printer at home, or a company looking to buy a few cases of printing paper, always look for suppliers that offer recycled printing paper.
The benefits of using recycled printing paper clearly outweigh the drawbacks, and with increased regulation being gradually enforced by governments around the world, more recycling plants are now following the proper procedures for disposing of harmful chemicals used to treat used paper.
Before buying, however, make sure to do proper research and find out which manufacturer follows proper treatment guidelines for producing recycled printing paper, so the paper you buy is always 100% environmentally friendly
Other alternatives to recycled printing paper
Apart from using recycled paper for printing, another alternative exists that can help you become more environmentally friendly without ever worrying about recycled paper at all. Bamboo is a material that has been growing in rapid popularity over the past few years.
With the ability to grow in just a few weeks as compared to several years, having a natural built-in antibacterial, and being a naturally durable and light material, bamboo may truly be the go-to option as the printing paper of choice for companies and individuals in the industry. Find out more on what makes bamboo so eco friendly and a fan-favorite among the environmentally conscious community.