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Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

You Can Save More than Just Trees by Shredding and Recycling

Each year in the United States, we use about 70 million tons of paper and paperboard, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s right: 70 million tons.

That’s a lot of paper.

The good news is that (as of 2011), about 37 percent of that paper was made from recycled paper. The bad news is, the figure should be a lot more than that. The fact is, recycling paper greatly helps the environment.

Interestingly, the battle cry for many recycling advocates is, “Save the trees!” But there’s much more to it than that. In fact, many feel recycling doesn’t technically “save” trees, as trees are harvested for a number of reasons, from lumber to veneer to furniture to baseball bats.

According to NaturallyEarthFriendly.com, one of the greatest impacts of recycling is the amount of energy and water saved. This is because the process of making paper from raw material requires much more of these resources than does making paper from recycled material. In addition, the process of making paper from raw wood also adds many pollutants into the atmosphere.

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The site says recycling just one ton of paper saves about 7,000 gallons of water and 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity. It is also estimated that we can “save” approximately fourteen trees, along with avoiding the destruction of two cubic meters of forest mass. But the prime mover is that recycled paper requires about 65 percent less energy, 50 percent less water and causes 72 percent less pollution than paper products made from virgin forest.

But saving trees? Well, that’s questionable. Roger Dziengelski, a Certified Forester and VP of Continuous Improvement and External Operations for Finch Paper, LLC, feels recycling paper is important for two reasons: it saves landfill space and it reduces the amount of methane that is emitted from a landfill when paper products and other materials buried there decompose.

This assertion is that recycling does not really “save” trees. When a tree is harvested, the straightest, smoothest trunk (over 16 feet tall) is generally used for furniture and lumber; the poorest trees and leftover parts are used to make paper, or for firewood; meanwhile, the tops can be chipped for biomass energy generation, according to Dziengelski’s website.

So, while the recycling of paper products does eliminate some of the need for raw pulp, it doesn’t necessarily stop a tree from being harvested for something else – it simply provides recycled pulp for use in products such as:

• Masking tape
• Paper money
• Globes
• Bandages
• Dust masks
• Hospital gowns
• Coffee filters
• Lamp shades
• Car insulation
• Animal bedding
• Planting pots for seedlings
• Egg cartons

Finch actually asserts that, theoretically, if society were to abandon its use of all wood products, there would no longer be much need to harvest trees. Clearly, that isn’t going to happen. But the truth is, recycled paper products can be recycled five to seven times, which adds multiple layers of benefits to protecting the environment.

Which brings us to the question: Does your company shred and recycle? If not, it should. And it’s easy to do. Companies such as The Data Vault offer a wide variety of shredding options, from one-time shred jobs to scheduled pickups and even drop-off shredding.

One of the most efficient options a company can take advantage of is shred containers which will be placed on site, picked up at regular intervals and replaced. You don’t even have to worry about removing the staples and paper clips; that can be taken care of during the shredding process.

What that means is that you have to do nothing other than drop your discarded documents into the containers. Well, nothing except feel proud that you’re helping to reduce waste and save the environment. Because 100 percent of what gets shredded is reduced to pulp and recycled, meaning you not only safely destroy important paperwork, which helps eliminate data breaches and improve security and accommodate compliance, but you also help the environment in the process.

That’s the definition of a win-win scenario.

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