I am all for recycling and I think more people would make more of an effort to recycle if they realized how important recycling is. Paper recycling can make a huge impact on reducing the use of virgin resources. Here are some paper consumption statistics to give you an idea of just how much paper we are using as a society. I also share paper recycling statistics to show you how much good we are doing and how much more good we can do if we can move the needle on recycling even more paper.
Paper Industry Statistics
The United States of America is one of the world’s largest paper consumers. As the WWF points out, “As one of the largest industrial sectors in the world, the pulp and paper industry has an enormous influence on global forests. This sector, which includes products such as office and catalog paper, glossy paper, tissue and paper-based packaging, uses over 40 percent of all industrial wood traded globally. “
“The pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in OECD countries and is the third greatest industrial greenhouse gas emitter, after the chemical and steel industries” (OECD Environmental Outlook, p. 218)
The way paper is made makes a huge difference! Unsustainable pulp and paper operations can have devastating impacts the environment and species. Responsible pulp and paper operations can bring many benefits to forests and local economies. We as consumers can play a key role in driving responsible forestry through our paper choices. According to Green Matters, when buying paper you should look for either FSC Certified paper or recycled paper if want to buy eco-friendly paper.
Paper Consumption Statistics
The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. –recordnations.com
Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person. The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. –USI.edu
“In 2017, paper and paperboard (cardboard) materials comprised the largest component of municipal solid waste (MSW).” -epa.gov
Did those paper consumption statistics surprise you? Do you think you could use less paper? How about your office or school? Once you reduce your paper consumption as much as you can, the next step is recycling.
Paper Recycling Statistics
Wiki Answers says that recycling one ton of paper saves:
- approximately 13 trees
- 2.5 barrels of oil
- 4100 Kilowatt hours of Electricity
- 4 cubic meters of landfill, 141 cubic feet
- 31,780 liters of water, or 8,395 gallons
- 60 pounds less of air pollution
More Stunning Paper Recycling Statistics: (from Recycling Revolution)
- If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
- The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years if we recycled it all!
- Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper … represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
How much paper is being recycled in America verses thrown away? According the EPA, “Approximately 44.2 million tons of paper and paperboard were recycled in 2017 for a recycling rate of 65.9percent.”
When you really stop and think about it, you use paper every day. Paper products are so common in our daily routine that we may not even think of them- printing paper, writing paper, paper towels, napkins, paper plates, paper bags, newspapers, just to name a few. Every one of us is using paper everyday and looking at our total usage adds up quickly. The good news is every little bit we cut out as a whole also adds up quickly.
I hope these paper consumption statistics and paper recycling statistics inspire you to reduce, reuse, and recycle all the paper you are responsible for. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even to help get paper recycling into your office and/ or schools!