Sunday, March 9, 2008

Recycling Paper

Part 2 in a series on recycling. This originally appeared as part of a larger piece written by your truly that appeared on

All paper can be recycled one way or another, but your city might not accept all types. Check your municipal website. Whatever they don’t accept, you can compost -- just be careful of dyes and glues. Be aware that as paper rots it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Recycle as much paper as you can before choosing to biodegrade.

Paper can generally be recycled four or five times before the fibers become too weak to reuse. Most post-consumer paper is mixed with virgin pulp to provide strength. When shopping for computer paper, stationary, journals and even checks, choose those with the highest amount of post-consumer content possible. According to the Energy Information Administration, a paper mill uses 40 per cent less energy to produce recycled paper than paper from new pulp. Many mills even use waste product from the recycling process as an energy source!

Phone books, newspapers, office paper, old books, magazine, cardboard, and construction paper are most commonly recycled. Paper products with a waxy finish, like cardboard milk containers or butcher paper, are difficult to recycle, and many facilities do not accept them -- check before tossing them into your bin.

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