Friday, June 13, 2008

Saving paper, saving trees? A few answers

I have posted the same post on NGO Post and got a few answers

First is a video that gives an idea about the tree-to-paper relationship

So, the number is 1 tonne of paper = 17 trees. One of the articles from says
"Unfortunately, the paper making process is not a clean one. According to the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory report published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pulp and paper mills are among the worst polluters to air, water and land of any industry in the country. The Worldwatch Institute offers similar statistics for the rest of the world. Each year millions of pounds of highly toxic chemicals such as toluene, methanol, chlorine dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and formaldehyde are released into the air and water from paper making plants around the world.

Paper making also uses up vast quantities of trees. But trees are a renewable resource, which means that once one is cut down another can be planted in its place. In fact, much of the wood used by paper companies in the U.S. comes from privately owned tree farms where forests are planted, groomed and thinned for harvest in 20 to 35 year cycles, depending on the tree species. Around the world, tree farms supply 16% of all wood used in the paper industry while the bulk comes from second growth forests. Only 9% of the wood used to make paper is harvested from old growth forests, which are impossible to replace because of their maturity.

Yet, while tree farms or plantations help feed the demand for wood, they can't provide the plant and animal diversity found in natural forests. Plus, according to a 1996 report from the U.S. Forest Service, the rate of harvest for softwood trees in the southern United States outpaced growth for the first time since 1953."

To summarize, manufacturing paper results in environmental degradation less because of cutting trees and more because of the method used. Though this offers a good idea about paper and its impact on environment, one must note that these are data mostly associated with US. In the Indian context, I found this in Myth and Reality about Plastic

Paper is not eco-friendly

We need to remind ourselves that making of paper and products consumes a lot of chemicals and requires a large amount of water and effluent problems are severe. Besides paper, unless coated with polymeric materials (or wax), cannot withstand wet conditions which are widely prevalent in India, particularly during monsoon periods. Paper making also consumes a lot of energy. In the Indian context the most serious problem is the availability of pulp. Environmental degradation has unquestionably occurred due to pulp manufacturing activities as commercial forestry, on large scale, is still a taboo. Padmabhushan Prof. M. M. Sharma (FRS) "

I have also stumbled upon information related to conservation in general, not necessarily related only to papers.

The story of stuff has a 20 min video about how consumption-minded lifestyle is killing the planet's life. Its a lot of talk (not necessarily cliche) with lots of statistics. But the core point is

- Recycling is important, but most of the products used are not recyclable and
- Lesser consumption pays off better in preserving environment.

Another link portrays people's consumption in the US in a unique pictorial representation rather than plain statistics. For a listing of companies all over India, involved in recycled paper products click here.

1 comment:

Goli said...

Very true Badhri, the key lies in consuming less, however much very you are able to recycle, recycling has its own limitations.