Trees and recycling have a long history together. With National Tree Day coming up on September 25, 2013, let’s have a look at how trees, paper and recycling are connected.
In Canada, we are fortunate to have a vast supply of natural resources in trees and forests. Around the 1840s, after it was discovered how to make paper from wood fibers, the Canadian pulp and paper industry began.
In the early 1900s, due to a fear of deforestation, American manufacturers developed a way to remove ink from old newspapers and turn the newspapers into cardboard and pasteboard. This was the first effort to recycle paper made from wood.
For almost 100 years now, we have had the ability to recycle paper and it is widely known that recycling paper helps to reduce the amount of material going into our landfills while conserving Canada’s precious natural resources!
Acceptable paper placed in your Blue Box is sorted into different categories at the materials recovery facility, baled and sent to a paper mill. Once the paper products reach the mill, it must be pulped to prepare the fibers for recycling. Most recycling mills use a de-inking process in order to remove the inks and contaminants such as labels, glue, plastic windows, paper clips and other materials. When this is completed, the clean, usable paper fibers are sent to the pulping machine to be made into new paper products, while the excess materials are skimmed off and recycled, burned for fuel, or landfilled.
So what are the benefits of recycling paper and what does recycling have to do with National Tree Day? Paper industry representatives have estimated that one tonne of recycled paper saves approximately 17 trees. That same tonne of recycled paper can also save 3 cubic meters of landfill space, which is increasingly important as many local landfills near their capacity. Other benefits of recycling paper include that it produces 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution than making paper from virgin wood pulp. Do you get a newspaper delivered to your house every day? Just one pound of newspaper can be recycled to make 6 cereal boxes, 6 egg cartons or 2,000 sheets of writing paper.
It’s clear that recycling paper saves resources. Most people understand trees are important to conserve, but do you know how much trees actually do?
Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife. Root systems help to reduce water run-off and soil erosion which helps keep local waterways clean. Something we tend to forget is that trees can improve urban areas, where most of us live and work. Through windbreak, trees can reduce residential heating costs by up to 10-15%. They also filter the air by producing oxygen and absorbing carbon monoxide and other pollutants. As well, a healthy tree can reduce air borne dust particles by as much as 7,000 particles per litre of air, acting like a free standing air conditioner and purifier.
The connection between recycling and trees is beneficial. Paper recycling helps preserve trees and forest resources so that we can enjoy all the benefits they provide to us and the environment.
Grade 6 and 7 students can also take part in the Halton Forest Festival; there’s also a public day on October 19, 2013 — everyone’s invited to hike through the forest and learn a little about what makes trees so important and special.
National Tree Day takes place on September 25, during National Forest Week, and is a great chance for all Canadians to celebrate trees. Find an event to attend in your neighbourhood or register for your own and connect with nature!