Recycling -- Why Does It Matter?

If I use Green Forest 100% recycled paper products, will I make a difference?

Recycling saves landfill space

  • The item most frequently encountered in MSW [municipal solid waste] landfills is plain old paper - on average, it accounts for more than 40 percent of a landfill's contents. This proportion has held steady for decades and in some landfills has actually risen. Newspapers alone can take up as much as 13 percent of the space in US landfills.

    Organic materials, including paper, do not easily biodegrade once they are disposed of in a landfill. Paper is many times more resistant to deterioration when compacted in a landfill than when it is in open contact with the atmosphere. Research by William Rathje, who runs the Garbage Project, has shown that, when excavated from a landfill, newspapers from the 1960s can be intact and readable.
    EPA website,

  • Over 54 percent (45.2 million tons) of paper and paperboard was recovered for recycling in 2007. Recycling these organic materials alone diverted 26 percent of municipal solid waste from landfills and combustion facilities.
    EPA "Municipal Solid Waste in the United States - 2007 Facts and Figures

  • The impacts of landfills are greater than simply the space they take up. As organic matter (anything that was once living) breaks down in a landfill, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By reducing the amount of organic material sent to the landfill, by composting, paper recycling, etc., you are helping to reduce greenhouse gases.

    Recycling generates revenue to help pay for itself, while incineration and landfilling do not.

    Recycling is largely responsible for averting the landfill crisis.

    Most states have less than twenty years of landfill capacity: who wants to live next to a new landfill?

    The number of landfills is decreasing, while the cost to send waste to them is on the rise.

    Landfills are responsible for 36% of all methane emissions in the U.S., one of the most potent causes of global warming.

    About 2/3 of operating landfills do not have liners to protect groundwater and drinking water sources.
    Common Myths About Recycling, Harvard University, Facilities Maintenance Operations

Recycling saves energy and reduces carbon emissions, reduces water pollution, and preserves wildlife habitat.

  • A ton of paper made from recycled fibers instead of virgin fibers conserves 7,000 gallons of water, 17-31 trees, 4,000 KWh of electricity, and 60 pounds of air pollutants.
    Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy

  • Tree farms and reclaimed mines are not ecologically equivalent to natural forests and ecosystems. Recycling prevents habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and soil erosion associated with logging and mining.
    Common Myths About Recycling, Harvard University, Facilities Maintenance Operations

  • Extracting fewer virgin materials not only decreases greenhouse gas emissions, it also prevents the disruption of land areas that are home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. ... By reducing the land disturbance and pollution associated with virgin materials extraction, recycling helps stop the degradation of the earth's ecosystems.

    Paper recycling has a direct impact on the protection of biodiversity in forests. A case in point is the decline of the longleaf pine forests that once covered 60 to 90 million acres in the southern United States. Due in large part to the harvesting of mature longleaf pine for the production of wood, paper, and other products, less than 5 percent of the original longleaf ecosystem, home to over 20 endangered species, remains today. The recycling of paper products lowers demand for wood, consequently reducing pressure to harvest the remaining longleaf pine trees.
    Puzzled About Recycling's Value?

Buying recycled products closes the recycling loop and helps make recycling work.

  • There's more to recycling than setting out your recyclables at the curb. In order to make recycling economically feasible, we must buy recycled products and packaging. When we buy recycled products, we create an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, manufactured, and marketed as new products. Buying recycled has both economic and environmental benefits. Purchasing products made from or packaged in recycled materials saves resources for future generations.
    EPA website,

  • Prices may fluctuate as they do for any commodity, but domestic and international markets exist for all materials collected in curbside recycling programs.

    Demand for recycled materials has never been greater. American manufacturers rely on recyclables to produce many of the products on your store shelves.

    By the year 2005, the value of materials collected for recycling will surpass $5 billion per year.

    In 1999, recycled paper provided more than 37% of the raw material fiber needed by U.S. paper mills.
    Common Myths About Recycling, Harvard University, Facilities Maintenance Operations

Recycling leaves a better world for your children and future generations.

  • If we do not recycle, the repercussions will fall on future generations. Our children and grandchildren will inherit the legacy of virgin production and throwaway consumption. Instead of leaving future generations a depleted natural resource base and more waste in landfills -- landfills that incur ongoing costs for monitoring and maintenance -- we can leave a stronger economy, greater biodiversity, and less global warming by recognizing the value of recycling and passing this knowledge on to our children.
    Puzzled About Recycling's Value?