What is it?
The most common sources of used paper are newsprint (old newspapers and flyers), cardboard (corrugated cardboard boxes), office paper (shredded and other), and mixed paper (coloured paper, cereal boxes, magazines, coffee cups…). Recycled paper requires 60 per cent less energy and 80 per cent less water to produce than virgin paper. In addition, it generates 95 per cent less air pollution. Together, paper and cardboard make up 32 per cent of what is diverted from landfills in Saskatchewan. Paper and cardboard recycling is very accessible in the province. Most communities have drop-off bins or a curbside recycling programs that include paper and cardboard.
What is the issue?
Paper and cardboard make up about 30-40% of the waste stream. That is a huge amount of resources with the potential to be diverted. The production of paper from virgin materials produces air, water, and land pollution. Worldwide, the pulp and paper industry is the fourth largest industrial consumer of energy, accounting for 6 percent of all the world's energy use. The pulp and paper industry uses more water to produce one tonne of product than any other industry.
Where can it go?
Almost every community that has a paper recycling program. Our recycling database lists 451 programs for paper and cardboard recycling – more than for any other material.
What happens after?
Recycling paper is a relatively simple process. What is required is a way to add water to the paper and blend it into a pulp, then use a screen or mold to compress the paper fiber and remove the water. Each time paper is recycled, its fibers become a little shorter. On average, fibers can be recycled five to seven times before they become unusable.
After it is collected, paper and cardboard are sorted, baled, and then shipped to recycling mills. The lowest grade of paper gets recycled into cardboard boxes. Regular office paper is made into paper once again or recycled into tissue paper. The mills that receive Saskatchewan paper are mostly in North America or Asia. Saskatchewan has not had its own paper recycling facility since the Urban Forest Recyclers in Swift Current officially closed in January 2013.
How can I reduce?
Unless you’re making your own recycled paper, you’re not really recycling until you make a point of choosing paper products made from recycled materials. Look for paper made of post-consumer content – this means the product is made from materials collected from recycling programs. Looking for recycled content is the best way to truly close the loop.
Reduce the amount of paper you use by sending emails or text messaged rather than writing notes. A whiteboard is another great way to leave reminders without having to use sticky notes.
If you’re having a party, ask your guests to bring their own plate so that you aren’t tempted to pull out the paper ones.
Cardboard boxes are great for reuse. Get creative and think outside the box.