Paper shredding helps the environment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says Americans consume on average more than 700 pounds of paper each year per person. The agency says paper products make up more than 27 percent of all municipal waste, making discarded paper and paper pulp the third largest polluter of our air, soil and water.

Recycling shredded paper helps the environment in two ways: by reducing harmful emissions and by easing the need for more landfill space.

Rotting paper emits methane gas, the fumes from which are 25 times more toxic to the environment than carbon dioxide gas. Because recycling reduces the amount of paper that goes to the landfill to decompose, it also reduces the amount of harmful emissions being released into the environment. Recycling also reduces the need to open new landfills, and recycling paper into new products uses fewer resources, energy and water than making new paper from trees.

A single ton of recycled paper saves 7,000 gallons of water and the equivalent of six months’ worth of electricity for the average U.S. home. One ton of recycled paper also saves approximately 17 trees, and every tree saved lowers carbon dioxide emissions.

According to the EPA, each ton of recycled paper fiber saves:

  • 17 trees
  • 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space
  • 360 gallons of water
  • 60 pounds of pollutants
  • 10,400 kilowatts of electricity
  • The energy equivalent of 165 gallons of gasoline

The main point of recycling is to create new paper products from old recycled paper. The paper industry recycles and recovers close to 70 percent of the paper consumed by Americans every year.

According to the EPA, shredded office paper is used by mills to make consumer products such as paper towels, tissue and toilet tissue.

In addition, mixed-grade recycled paper can be used as secondary fiber in the production of new paper and raw material in non-paper products such as gypsum wallboard, chipboard, roofing felt, cellulose insulation and molded pulp products like egg cartons.

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