Paper Recycling: Five Misconceptions You Should Throw Away

Everyone knows that recycling waste paper is good for humankind and the environment. When there is less demand for new paper, it means fewer trees have to be cut. Since trees benefit the planet and its inhabitants in a myriad of ways, green environments are necessary for healthy and sustainable living.

However, many people are still unconvinced that waste paper recycling is a worthwhile proposition. Although some of their arguments are not completely unreasonable, a lot of the things they believe are unfounded. Today, let us separate fact from fiction.

Misconception #1: Recycling old paper uses more energy than manufacturing new paper

This misconception has stood the test of time, but its longevity does not make it right. Those that firmly consider this notion a fact probably have a good handle on the papermaking process. Anyone with a good working knowledge of the manufacture of recycled paper understands that it takes significant energy to remove impurities from waste paper.

But that does not this mean recycling old paper results in considerable energy waste. The process of turning wood chips from trees into pulp actually has greater energy requirements. Recycling is yet to be a 100%-green endeavour, but it helps cut down fossil fuel consumption in commercial and industrial settings.

Misconception #2: Paper must be separated from other recyclables

Sorting recyclable materials is important, but you will not have to do more than just putting your trash in the wrong bin. In fact, you may not throw all of your recyclables in a single container. Many recycling companies now use single-stream systems with specialised equipment to process certain impure materials efficiently. Segregation still helps, but it is not as necessary as it used to be.

Shredded paper for recycling

Misconception #3: Recycling is no longer that impactful in a paperless world

If you think the need for recycling has subsided with the advent of modern technology, you could not be more wrong. Contrary to popular belief, the Internet and other modern digital devices have not reduced the world’s paper consumption. The use of paper products in Western countries has increased considerably.

Email and chat services may be the new standard in the office, but real business is still done on actual paper. Plus, many of us still get statements in the mail from our banks, telecommunications providers and utility companies.

Misconception #4: Recycled paper is of low quality

This claim used to be true years ago, but advances in papermaking technology have been debunking it. Reliable recycling companies these days observe strict quality control measures to test and check products thoroughly. Most of the process is computerised, which vastly reduces human error. From an aesthetic standpoint, recycled paper is now indistinguishable from new paper. Quality-wise, the former is practically on par with the latter.

Misconception #5: Recycling pays for itself

Despite all the goodness the recycling industry is doing to the world, it cannot claim that it is immune from market forces. Recycled paper products are commodities. The cost to manufacture and price to sell recycled paper fluctuates, so there is no telling whether it can generate consistent profit for recyclers.

Regardless of your opinion about paper recycling, you cannot deny that saving as many trees as possible from harvesting is ethical. You may not get rich from repurposing old paper all of your life, but supporting such a cause promises returns far more valuable than money.