Environmental Impact of Paper Production

A useful but wasteful product…


Tons of paper produced

In the world, this year

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TheWorldCounts, 28 September, 2014

A useful but wasteful product…

With the improvement in technology and the advent of the printing press and the mechanical harvesting of wood, disposable paper became more affordable for the average consumer. This resulted in a drastic increase in consumption and of course, waste – which all contributed to Paper Pollution. It is estimated that 40% of the waste in the U.S. is paper.

More: Paper Waste Facts

The environmental impact of paper production is important to note since it has many negative effects. Here are some of them:

  • 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for the production of paper.
  • Pulpwood plantations and mills endanger natural habitats.
  • Over 30 million acres of forest are destroyed annually.
  • The pulp and paper industry is a big contributor to the problem of deforestation and is partly to blame for the endangerment of some species that live in the forests.
  • The life cycle of paper is damaging to the environment from beginning to end. It starts off with a tree being cut down and ends its life by being burned – emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Paper production uses up lots of water. An A4 paper requires 10 liters of water per sheet.
  • Most of the materials in landfills are made of paper. When paper rots, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas. When it is burned or composted, carbon dioxide.

More: How Can We Stop Deforestation?

  • Pulp and paper mills discharge water that’s riddled with solids, dissolved organic matter called lignin, alcohol, inorganic material such as cholates, chlorineand metal compounds. All of this contributes to soil and water pollution.
  • The paper industry is the 5th largest consumer of energy in the world. It uses up 4% of the world’s energy. To produce 1 ton of virgin paper, it is estimated that 253 gallons of petrol is used.

More: Paper Waste Facts

Minimizing Paper Pollution

Paper is recyclable, but not everyone recycles. We need to make an effort to be consistent about recycling. We’ve come to the point where people need to contribute to a greener environment by changing the way they manage their personal wastes. Remember to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – and encourage everyone you know to do it.

Buy recycled paper and encourage the paper industry to use environment friendly ways of manufacturing paper. As a consumer, you can influence how industries produce the products that you buy.

Read more about our current environmental challenges and how you can help save our planet – and in so doing, save the Earth for our future generations. Visit The World Counts: Stories.

Are you looking for Green Products and you’d like to support Ethical Companies? Go to FirmHugger and find a variety of green options.


  1. Wikipedia: Environmental Impact of Paper
  2. Paper: The Environmental Catastrophe

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