We all know that papers are made from trees and it is common to hear people say save more trees by using less paper. Some people have also heard and it has been circulating in the internet that "a ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees."
However, there is some caution when taking this quote. This first came out about 40 years ago, so with all the changes happening in the world, it may not be exactly true and applicable today. Also, this was computed based on paper used for newspaper printing. Producing this type of paper has a different process when compared to office and printing papers. But this is the closest calculation one can get when it comes to estimating the number of trees saved from cutting by recycled paper or the number of trees used to make virgin paper, regardless of the type of paper is being referred to.
During the recent years, there has been information online that some efforts made by a non-profit organization to somehow update this statistic. Some questions were posed and answers were given to give people an idea about how much paper can be produced with one tree or how many trees can be saved by recycling a particular amount of paper.
The first consideration is determining what kind of paper is being referred to. Paper that is made using a mechanical process or ground wood process are using trees efficiently twice as much as compared to making paper using the kraft or free sheet process.
Some examples of paper using the mechanical process are catalog, newsprint, telephone directories and some low-budget magazines. The free sheet process, on the other hand, produces paper for office, business cards, letterheads, high-quality coated materials and advertising and offset papers. Whether a paper is coated or uncoated also could spell a difference.
So, really, how many tress are needed to produce a ton of paper? In the book Recycled Papers written by Claudia Thompson, she reported an estimate that was calculated by a Pulp and Paper Technology program graduate student, Tom Soder. It was estimated that a rough average of 24 trees can produce one ton of paper for writing and printing. The craft chemical is the process used. This was based on a mixture of soft and hard woods that are about 40 feet high and has 6-8 inches diameter.
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