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It was found that recycling, based on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, does reduce environmental impact, but that this benefit can be increased by recycling fibre multiple times, and through the integration of more than one management method.
Paper as a material has a long history of recycling, beginning with the collection of discarded linens for the earliest Chinese paper mills in the 2 nd century C. However, it was not until the latter part of the 20 th century, that the driving force behind the reprocessing and reuse of raw materials became the protection of the environment.
Paper recycling has particular significance for Canada, since it is the world’s 4th largest producer of paper, responsible for the milling of over 30 million tonnes of paper annually (NRCan 2008a), a full 6% of the global total (Earth Trends 2003).
However, there remain real questions about the efficacy of paper recycling in reducing other forms of environmental degradation.
New York Times journalist John Tierney publicly raised some of these questions in the article ‘Recycling is Garbage’, challenging the environmental benefits of the practice (Tierney 1996).
Since wood paper waste can be recycled up to seven times, even the reprocessing of small amount of fibre can have a significant impact on the need to harvest wood (TAPPI 2001).
Similarly, it is safe to assume that recycling paper reduces the amount of solid waste being deposited in landfills. incineration, composting, recycling, etc.) will obviously reduce the imprint of physical waste on the environment. Boreal Forest Carbon Sequestration Strategies: A Case Study of the Little Red River Cree First Nation Land Tenures.
Also, if paper is recycled, the conserved timber can potentially be used as an energy source.
These options, as well as various combinations of them should be considered as potential alternatives to recycling and landfill alone.
A review was done of existing paper life cycle analyses, as well as original calculations using data from refereed and Canadian government sources.
It was found that recycling, based on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, does reduce environmental impact, but that this benefit can be increased by recycling fibre multiple times, and through the integration of more than one management method.1 The Environmental Impact of Paper Waste Recycling: A Comparative Study Neil Mac Eachern FRST 497 Dr. John Worrall 2 Abstract This paper aims to quantify the environmental impact of recycling paper in Canada versus other paper waste management options using the indicators of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.