Did you know that a sheet of writing paper might contain fibers from hundreds of different trees? These fibers travel thousands of kilometres from forest to consumer. And if the current paper production and consumption practices remain the same over the coming years, the growing demand for paper will put a lot of pressure on the planet’s last remaining natural forests and endangered wildlife, as stated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Pulp and paper is made out of wood fibres originating from natural forests or pulpwood plantations. The WWF states that while some of this timber is grown in well-managed forests and plantations, much of it is still the result of illegal logging and the destruction of old forests. For example, the remaining natural forests in Sumatra and New Guinea are now endangered due to the demand for pulpwood, among other threats. This also threatens the habitats of several rare wildlife species, such as tigers, Asian elephants, Asian rhinos and orangutans.
According to Zero Waste New Zealand Trust, a non-profit organization, making paper from recycled content creates 74 per cent less air pollution and 35 per cent less water pollution. However, despite this, the share of total paper fiber coming from recycled material has only grown from 20 per cent in 1921 to 38 per cent globally today.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US alone uses approximately 68 million trees each year to produce paper and paper products. Approximately 2 billion books and 12 billion magazines are printed annually in the US and less than five per cent of the magazine paper has any recycled content. By the end of the year, 90 per cent of these magazines are discarded and many books and magazines are thrown away before they even make it to the shelves.
To read the full story, visit http://gulfnews.com/your-say/your-reports/the-environmental-impact-of-paper-1.1811064.