The recycling of paper is important to people in countries all over the world, including the United States, because it benefits the environment, saves money and creates jobs. As of 2007, thanks to recycling efforts made by the government and many businesses and individuals, more than half of all paper products consumed in the U.S. each year are now reclaimed for the manufacturing of new products.
The production of paper and its discarding have significant impacts on the environment. Because roughly 90 percent of paper pulp is made from wood, 28 percent of all trees cut down in the United States are used for paper production. And paper thrown away by consumers ultimately ends up in landfills, where it releases methane, a gas that adds to global warming.
The recycling of paper saves trees, as well as reduces energy consumption, reduces landfill waste and reduces water and air pollution. Also, manufacturers can use recovered paper to make new paper materials, such as newspapers, magazines, book pages, printer paper, notebook paper, stationery, packaging, boxes, bags, cups and cartons.
In 1690, in Philadelphia, William Rittenhouse and his family established the first North American paper mill to use recycled linen. More than 200 years later, in 1897, the Benedetto family established the country's first major recycling facility in New York City, where they collected newspapers and rags, among other things.
The year 1993 was the first year during which the U.S. recycled more paper than it placed in landfills, and since then, figures have continued to increase positively each year. In 2007, a record-setting 56 percent of all the paper consumed in that year was recycled for reproduction.
Every ton of recovered paper saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space. Also, as of the end of 2008, recycled materials accounted for approximately 37 percent of the fiber that American paper producers require in order to make new paper products.
- Photo Credit morgueFile, Inc.
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