Interesting facts about paper to get you thinking

Friday January 14, 2022

Perhaps we all take paper for granted. All our lives we have been surrounded by paper and paper products and possibly don’t give this versatile material much thought. Well, here are some interesting facts to get you thinking about paper, how we rely on it and what impact its usage has on us as a society.

Global paper use has increased by 400% in the last 40 years and the average individual in America consumes more than 320 kg of paper every year which is the highest paper usage figure per capita worldwide. Americans use 30% of the global paper produced, although they account for only 5% of the world’s population.  Each year more than 24 billion newspapers, 350 million magazines and 2 billion books are published in the states.

We might assume that the biggest use of paper consumption globally would be for printing, but it is now for packaging. Packaging is now the worlds biggest consumer of paper and China produces more paper than any other country, with the USA being the second largest producer and Japan the third, followed by Germany and Indonesia.

Paper producing is big business and the pulp and paper industry is the fifth largest user of energy, making up 4% of all the world’s energy use.

Although sales are falling, we still love our Sunday papers, and half a million trees must be logged to produce Sunday newspapers around the world. 250 million trees could be saved if all newspapers were printed on recycled paper.

Despite this, recycling rates are relatively high and as far back as 5 years ago, 79% of the paper and cardboard used in the UK was recycled and the paper recycling rate in the EU was 71.5%. Recycled paper production results in 40% less greenhouse gas emissions and uses 26% less energy to produce. Production of recycled paper also creates 43% less wastewater.

Every tonne of recycled paper is said to save enough energy (compared to producing virgin paper) to power a house for an entire year.

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