The benefits of recycling paper

May 17 is World Recycling Day, a key date to mark the search for the sustainability of our actions. Established by UNESCO with the aim of celebrating the importance of recycling in the preservation of the planet’s primary resources, it aims to raise awareness about the circular economy and encourage governments, companies and citizens to recycle more .

For most people, the value of recycling is clear: less waste and more efficient use of the planet’s limited resources. But while many understand the basic benefits of separating waste and recycling it, there is still much to be done to spread the many benefits of recycling and promote effective actions to increase recycling rates.

The secrets of paper, the “Eco warrior”

When it comes to recycling, one material stands out: paper, one of the most sustainable materials in the world, with a current recycling rate of 74% in Europe, surpassing America North (66%) and Asia (54%). Considering that there is a maximum theoretical recycling rate of 78%, due to the “retained” paper in products that have prolonged use, such as books, archival documents, etc. or used in non-recyclable products, such as tissue paper, 74% is already a very good recycling rate.

It should be said that paper cannot be recycled indefinitely, since the fibers become too short and frayed to be useful in creating a new sheet of paper. Furthermore, production cannot be based solely on recycled fiber, since it is not possible to collect all used paper for recycling. Thus, the truly sustainable cycle in the production of new paper depends on the combination of recycled fiber with new fibers, coming from cultivated trees.

A great success story of recycled paper is in packaging. With the pandemic accelerating the shift to online shopping, recent years have seen a huge increase in demand for paper and cardboard packaging.

A 2019 Smithers report also found that even before COVID-19, the global corrugated packaging market was growing faster than expected, helped by the explosion of electronic commerce and developments in digital printing technologies.

The great news about paper and cardboard packaging is that its recycling rate worldwide (83%) is even higher than that of other types of products made with cellulose. This makes it the most recycled material in the world, more than metal (80%), glass (75%) and plastic (42%).

Changing attitudes and behaviors

In addition to its very high recycling rate, there is another important advantage of cardboard packaging: people like it. The 2021 Two Sides Trend Tracker survey found that 54% of respondents in 12 countries prefer paper packaging because they believe it is better for the environment. When asked to choose their favorite packaging material based on a variety of environmental, visual and physical attributes, respondents listed paper and cardboard as their favorites out of a possible 10 out of 15. Key numbers include 76% prefer paper packaging because it is compostable, 54% because it is better for the environment and 51% because it is easier to recycle.

These figures help us confirm that we are increasingly aware of the values related to environmental responsibility.

Is tissue paper recyclable or compostable?

Tissue paper has become a daily, basic and highly demanded item. This demand has caused its production to be affected worldwide and manufacturers are doing everything possible to satisfy it, ensuring quality at reasonable prices. But this increase in consumption is also worrying about the manufacturing of its waste.

Like most recycling questions, the answer is “it depends.” Tissue paper is made from organic products (paper pulp), so it can be recycled like other papers, as long as it is free of contaminants such as aluminum foil, glitter, etc.

It is worth mentioning that tissue paper, whether virgin or 100% recycled, is a low quality material, in the sense that it has a very low fiber content compared to other types of paper. This characteristic makes this type of paper more difficult to recycle, it yields less, and for this reason many recycling companies do not want to accept tissue paper because it is more difficult to find purchasing companies that pay for products recycled with this type of paper. On the other hand, there is a risk that this paper could “contaminate” other recyclable materials, since, due to their use, they are coated with grease, food, body fluids, etc. Because of these nuances, some recyclers cannot accept tissue paper (even though tissue paper is labeled recyclable).

The good news is that tissue paper is accepted in many industrial composting plants and as long as it does not have aluminum foil or glitter, it is You can compost at home. Unadorned tissue paper can be a healthy addition to a compost pile because it absorbs excess moisture generated by food waste and bioplastics.

In conclusion, tissue paper is like this, compostable and biodegradable so in one way or another we can say that, if it is recyclable, we can transform the material and give it a second use. .

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