Paper Recycling and Its Main Benefits

From the perspective of society, a set of economic and institutional issues arise: the public sector should, through regulations and legislation, encourage the private sector to recycle paper rather than dispose of wastes by incineration or landfill. The proper involvement is dictated by the degree to which the market fails to operate optimally from a social perspective. Hypothesis Paper recycling will benefit the society because of two reasons: it will help to save the environment and save energy resources.

Literature Review

The literature discusses the problems of environmental damage caused by paper waste. Researchers Barrow (2003, 53, 113) and Hershkowitz (1998, 165) admit that paper recycling will benefit society because it will help to save land space, reduce global warming and reduce litter. In their works, these researchers describe that once the paper waste is collected, the plastics can enter the conventional disposal stream (usually incineration or landfill) or be diverted to a recycling stream. In the case of landfill, the technological problems are not usually considered severe, at least with nontoxic and relatively inert wastes such as plastics (Hershkowitz 165).

Following Barrow (2005) the environmental problems of disposing plastics in landfills are more controversial and are either severe or insignificant, depending on the source cited. A consensus problem with landfill is, however, the decline in available land for landfill operations, especially around densely populated areas. There have been numerous arguments why governments should encourage paper recycling in general (Hershkowitz 166). The fundamental argument is that the disposal of waste imposes external costs of various types on society — costs that are not directly realized by the individual disposers or processors of that waste.

Barrow (2005, 115) underlines that external environmental costs are most often discussed. It is argued that government intervention will be required to force the cost of disposal that is realized by the waste producer or processor to reflect all external, as well as internal, costs. Recyclers of waste paper and metals produce a feedstock for producers of basic paper and metal products and therefore have a readily identifiable demand source for their intermediate products. Following Hershkowitz: “Recycling programs provide an important source of fiber for papermaking, and paper recycling is economically replacing virgin timber use” (163).

Another layer of literature analyzes the problems of GHG emissions and CO2 emissions which can be eliminated and reduced if society will use energy saved from recycling. Further, regulations and government actions can impact the availabilities of waste, the prices of wastes and recycled products, required pollution control devices, safety re quirements, and so on. These relative advantages of tertiary recycling have spurred numerous technical studies that have examined the potential for applying tertiary processes to the municipal waste stream and to plastics as a segregated waste (Winter and Koger 112).

This book reviews those studies by summarizing the technical approaches used and discussing some particular applications of those approaches. The major commercial product from the pyrolysis of municipal waste is fuel gas. Mccarthy underlines that paper recycling will help to save energy and reduce emissions dumped into the air. An interesting fact that Henry Ford, a century ago, proposed the same method of recyciling widely sued today. “The Ford company’s zeal for waste reduction led it into two areas of postconsumer recycling at the Rouge. The first of these activities had nothing to do with automobiles. In 1929 the company took on garbage disposal for the city of Dearborn in an effort to produce industrial alcohol and fertilizer” (53).

Data analysis

The data shows that paper accounts for about 43% of harvested wood which represents 1.2% of the global total economic output. Paper recycling saves environment and allows local authorities do not impose a marginal cost of disposal on consumers. However, implementing such a system would be a costly, if not infeasible, task. Problems would arise in metering and enforcing payment for a marginal contribution to a waste stream at the consumer level. Also, paper recycling allows to save energy and reduce C)2 emissions (Mccarthy 53). The recycling of other materials in the municipal waste stream, such a paper, glass, and metals, faces the same market distortion.

Third, to the extent that recycling reduces the importation of energy, the “oil import premium” suggests that recycling should be subsidized (Hershkowitz 166). There is general agreement that a reduction in oil imports provides a social benefit because oil imports are subject to significant supply disruptions and thus large price variations. Researchers propose that “waste paper removed would first be redirected to a mini-pulp mill located in the recycling park. The mill would repulp the paper directly for sales on the open market. Revenue from these sales would help support the industrial park through the minimill’s rent payments” (Pellow 113).

Of course, there is no reason that recycling should be given preferential treatment over any other measure that might reduce imports. The products can be sawed, nailed, and handled in much the same way as wood products, but are much more resistant to moisture and therefore for some applications can be considered superior to wood. Paper was each selected by 7 percent as the most harmful, while aluminum was in fourth place with 4 percent. Wood was believed to be least harmful to the environment (Winter and Koger 154). Recyclers of waste paper produce a feedstock for producers of basic paper products and therefore have a readily identifiable demand source for their intermediate products (BrÜck 64).

In the case of recycling, the potential demand for the recycled products is not so easily identified, thus requiring a greater marketing effort on the part of the recycler Hershkowitz 165). The more relevant question concerns how technical constraints limit the application of currently available or developmental recycling technologies to specific waste streams. Unfortunately, from the perspective of recycling, the dissimilar physical and chemical properties exhibited by different waste pose significant problems in recycling of paper.

Technical complexity and relatively high cost have led the technical experts to conclude that the existing separation processes will, for the most part, be limited to very selective uses in the coming decade. For paper wastes collected outside of the municipal waste stream, the major obstacle to recycling will be the ease with which paper can be separated from contaminating materials.


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  1. Do you believe that paper recycling can save environment?
  2. In which ways does the paper recycling save environment?
  3. Is recycling an effective method to reduce global warming?
  4. What is the most effective method of paper recycling? Why?
  5. Can paper recycling influence energy resources and reduce GHG and Co2 emissions? if so, in what ways?
  6. Would you participate in community paper recycling programs?

Works Cited

  1. Barrow, C.J. Environmental Management and Development. Routledge, 2005.
  2. BrÜck, W. Making recycling an integral part of the economy of the future. OECD Observer, a (2000): 64-65.
  3. Hershkowitz, A. In Defense of Recycling, Social Research, 65 (1998): 141-177.
  4. Mccarthy, T. Henry Ford, Industrial Ecologist or Industrial Conservationist? Waste Reduction and Recycling at the Rouge. Michigan Historical Review, 27 (2001); 53.
  5. Winter, D.D. Koger, S.M. Psychology of Environmental Problems. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004.

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Premium Papers. 2022. "Paper Recycling and Its Main Benefits." June 12, 2022.

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Premium Papers. "Paper Recycling and Its Main Benefits." June 12, 2022.