With the advent of digital media, many predicted that paper would soon become a thing of the past. However, paper is making a comeback as a sustainable material of choice.
With the onset of climate change, the growing environmental footprint of plastics has come under fire for their negative impact on the environment and wildlife. Plastic production produces carbon emissions and 14 million tons of plastic waste crowd the oceans each year. As such, paper has been sought after as a more environmentally-friendly alternative.
In this article, we explore the reasons for paper’s return and the importance of recycling paper to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
Paper As A More Environmentally Friendly Alternative
Today, paper’s versatility allows it to be used for everything from packaging to printing to writing. Paper is strong and durable, yet it’s also light and easy to work with. This makes it ideal for a wide range of applications.
One of the primary reasons for paper’s resurgence is the realisation that it is far more environmentally friendly than its synthetic counterparts. Paper is made from wood fibres, a natural and renewable resource that can be planted, grown, harvested, and replanted. It can also be sustainable when it is produced from responsibly managed forests. Existing trees and continued reforestation in sustainable forestry can mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Paper’s ability to be recycled multiple times also means it can sustainably meet the world’s growing demand. The recycling process requires less energy and water than making paper from virgin pulp, helping to reduce deforestation. In addition, paper recycling generates less pollution than other methods of paper production. It is this responsible sourcing and sustainable manufacturing process that makes paper an invaluable sustainable material, aligning with the needs of a circular economy.
Making Sustainable Paper
As more and more consumers become aware of the environmental impact of their choices, the demand for sustainable paper products is on the rise. In response to this, the paper industry works hard to source its materials from sustainable sources. For example, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas sources its paper from sustainably managed forests and has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for its practices.
In sustainable forestry, trees are harvested in a way that minimises damage to the ecosystem and ensures that new growth will replace the trees that are harvested. This is a viable way to manage the balance of forest growth with the demands of both domestic and international markets for renewable resources.
As a result of these practices, the paper industry has become much more sustainable in producing paper compared to how it was traditionally made, before sustainable forestry was widely implemented.
Recycling Paper To Maintain A Healthy Ecosystem
According to a study by Environmental Paper Network, recycling paper saves 31% of energy and 53% water as compared to producing paper from virgin pulp. In addition to the sustainable advantage of being made from a renewable resource, paper is the most recycled product in the world. Recycling paper is a process of turning used paper products into new paper products. Asia Pulp and Paper has produced 100% recycled paper, which can be recycled again to lengthen its fibre lifespan.
Paper recycling is important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem as it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when they save trees from being cut down and releasing carbon dioxide. Space in landfills is also saved when businesses or individuals choose to recycle paper waste instead of disposing of them.
During recycling, the paper is mixed with water and chemicals to break it down. The fibres are then separated and bleached. Next, they are screened and cleaned before being mixed with water and pulp to create new paper.
Paper Is Indeed A Deserving Sustainable Material of Choice
The return of paper as a material of choice to make everyday products is a benefit to the environment. It is made from renewable resources and can be recycled multiple times while minimising its impact on the ecosystem. While other materials such as plastic are still widely used, paper is still the best option for many products. When choosing to use paper instead of another material, organisations and individuals can make a choice that is better for the environment.