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Ever thought about what life would be like without paper? It’s practically impossible to think about modern life without paper in the mix. However, the harmful environmental effects associated with the manufacture, use, and disposal of paper are alarming.
Statistics show that paper products are some of the most energy-intensive in the manufacturing industry. Even though the manufacture of paper is energy-intensive, it’s also alarming to find that much of the manufactured paper is wasted.
People throw out a lot of waste, and this mainly stems from wrapping paper and shopping bags. Actually, people throw more than 1 million tons of waste every week, primarily consisting of papers and other similar materials.
Paper Wastage Facts
To fully understand how much paper is wasted every year, here are some interesting facts that you should know.
Over 80 million tons of paper waste are created each year
Imagine all the paper products people in different parts of the world use daily. It doesn’t end with gift wraps, toilet paper, and grocery bags. Paper mail also accounts for the paper we use each year.
Think of all the documents that we receive every month. This includes electricity bills, phone bills, cable bills, water bills, and even the different invoices for transactions we enter every month. Eventually, we throw away a large percentage of all these papers without even looking at some of them.
All this thrown-out waste accounts for more than 80 million tons of paper waste every year. That makes a total of about 308 kg of total waste per person.
70% of office waste is paper
Considering all the paper we consume every year, it’s not surprising to see that up to 70% of office waste comes from paper alone. Offices use paper for different documentation. For example, creating files for employees and clients, HR documents, receiving mail, and printing out mail all require the use of paper.
To make matters even worse, more than 30% of the papers we print don’t ever get picked up, and about 45% are thrown away at the close of work. Putting all of this together, you’ll find that we can actually build a tall wall from all the paper we waste every year.
Paper accounts for 40% of waste dumped into landfills
This is another alarming instance, and it shows that most landfills are recyclable, but because we repeatedly trash papers in these landfills, they become non-recyclable. We are constantly thrashing juice and milk cartons, kid’s drawings, paper towels, homework notes, and many other documents and papers.
These papers should be used for different purposes rather than being thrown into landfills. We now have more than 40% of landfills with paper waste and a total of more than 80 million tons of paper every year, which is alarming.
Newspaper consumes 13% of space in landfills
This is another surprising finding, especially since there are many other alternatives to the news today. However, many people still enjoy reading newspapers, which adds to the amount of paper waste we dispose of every year. Today, this makes up for up to 13% of the paper that’s contained in landfills.
The fascinating thing is that this can be easily avoided, and it’s as simple as everybody embracing digital forms of getting news updates. If you’re wondering about the options to embrace to avoid adding to the paper waste through newspapers, you should consider options like online news and digital news channels.
An office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper a year
Considering all the digital alternatives available today, it’s surprising that only one office worker still produces this much waste yearly. You might want to ask why many are yet to embrace digital alternatives.
This may be from the prints and copies those office workers produce daily. An option to embrace for someone working in an office is to scan documents and email them rather than making multiple copies to mail them out. By emailing these copies, we can reduce the number of paper waste every year.
A single document gets photocopied 19 times in its lifespan
Most businesses like delivering paperwork as quickly as possible to ensure that nothing alters business flow. This implies that many documents are photocopied daily and mailed out to different clients and recipients.
This is the conventional way of doing business, and it has been that way for many years now. However, it’s starting to become a nuisance, considering the amount of paper waste we create yearly. As highlighted earlier, a single document gets photocopied up to 19 times during its lifespan, leaving one to wonder what happened to using digital copies.
All these multiple photocopies can be avoided by choosing other alternatives to send documents out. For example, you can send a digital copy to the recipient’s email rather than making photocopies to mail out. Remember that these documents were first in their digital forms before they were printed out.
Up to 4 million tons of junk mail are trashed in landfills yearly
We don’t like to see junk mail in our mailbox, but there’s always a high chance of ending up with junk mail all the time. Because we don’t like to see this junk mail, we end up trashing them, and today, this accounts for up to 4 million tons of junk mail trashed into landfills yearly.
This issue should be rectified as quickly as possible because more than 50% of junk mail is deposited annually into landfills. This is similar to the spam emails we get regularly. To avoid this junk mail, companies should take the time to develop better and more personalised communication strategies without using paper.
Businesses use up to 21 million tons of paper yearly
Consumers are not the only culprits to blame for the alarming number of paper waste. Businesses also play a role in the blame, and that’s the case in different parts of the world. Today, statistics show that businesses alone use up to 21 million tons of paper every year. This is not a thing to be proud of, especially considering its environmental impact.
The good thing is that there are many ways to reduce these high values. It revolves around switching to digital options, embracing these digital alternatives, and recycling. With this, one can easily understand the extensive paperwork we deal with daily, and there won’t be any concerns about how documents are trashed.
About 1514 litres of oil are used in producing every ton of paper
The effect of excessive use of paper is not just an issue that concerns waste alone. Oil is used to produce paper, which only increases global oil consumption yearly. Today, many countries are seeking alternatives to help them reduce their carbon footprint, and the only option, for now, is to embrace greener alternatives.
If you are not convinced that paper waste causes pollution and landfills, then you should consider the amount of oil used in producing paper every year. Statistics show that about 1514 litres or 400 gallons of oil are used in producing every ton of paper.
With a large amount of paper waste created, you can only imagine how much oil was used in making them. Recycling one ton of paper will help to save about 1514 litres or 400 gallons of oil and the trees used in producing them.
Embracing digital document management systems
Still wondering whether switching to digital options can help reduce the amount of paper waste yearly? Embracing digital document management systems will help save up to 635 billion kg of paper we use. Statistics show that this is the equivalent of about 730,000 trees used in making paper.
Even though it may not be totally possible to go 100% paperless, especially for businesses, there’s still a need to put in efforts towards embracing digital options and minimising paper waste.
Go Digital Or Recycle Paper
Hopefully, these paper waste facts serve as an eye-opener for you as a business owner or consumer. Regardless of the category you fall under; it’s everyone’s responsibility to help in reducing paper waste. The two main ways to reduce paper waste are to go digital or recycle paper.
For businesses, a great option is to switch to digital alternatives for newsletters, tax documents, HR documents, and other documentation. Basically, you can use this for all forms of communication between consumers and workers.
For billing and invoicing, you can also embrace paperless alternatives. This is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective as well. With this, you won’t need to spend so much on envelopes, stamps, ink, and paper itself. Another interesting thing is that you’ll be able to send invoices faster, making it easier for your customer to pay you quickly.
You can also scan and store every paper document on a cloud platform. This makes it much easier for you to access and share these documents. Ultimately, it’ll help you increase business organisation and productivity. You also won’t need to deal with missing, untracked, and mishandled documents.
In addition, minimising the use of printers will also help you save time, especially in cases where you need to deliver reports, proposals, and other documents. Digital document management will allow you to access these documents quickly, and you only need to have a steady internet connection.
In reality, it is much easier to maintain existing processes and change a few aspects of them. With paper, many businesses and individuals may not be able to switch to digital alternatives easily. In this case, recycling paper as much as possible is the best option to help reduce paper waste. You can do this by working with professional skip bin hire services to help collect all your paper trash and recycle it properly.
Reach Out To Paper Recycling Experts
Paper is an essential part of daily living, and this article has covered all the important information about paper waste. With that said, you must make sure that you dispose of paper in a way that makes recycling easy. You can accomplish this by using skip bin services, which assist with recycling or correct disposal of your paper.