PAPER RECYCLING: BETWEEN DETRACTORS AND SUPPORTERS

Tuesday, 19th january 2021 | Circular economy
Marco Arezio - Consulente materie plastiche - Paper Recycling: between Detractors and Supporters

As in all activities, also in the field of recycling there are adverse currents that try to discredit or minimize the competing market.

In the paper recycling sector, a study has emerged published in October 2020 in Nature Sustainability by Yale University and University Colleage of London, according to which the production of recycled paper would use more energy from fossil sources than that produced from virgin fibers.

According to the researchers, the direct CO2 emissions for the production of an Invercote carton amount to an average of 33 kg. per ton, while the same product made through the use of recycled paper would produce on average about 294 kg. per ton of CO2.

However, we must point out some important things to frame this analysis:


Recycled paper supports the world market of the finished product unequivocally in terms of quantity and price containment.

The circularity of paper production also passes through the use of renewable energies that significantly reduce the carbon footprint.

• Paper recycling is a fundamental pillar in responsible waste management which cannot be renounced.

The calculation of the environmental impact of paper recycling is not attributable only to the finished product, but to the recycling system which is an indispensable industrial activity, on which we can and must work to reduce the carbon impact.

• Also in other recycling sectors, plastics for example , there are examples in which the price of virgin raw material costs less of the regenerated one and, if we count the environmental impact to produce one kg. of virgin granule compared to the regenerated one, we would probably see that the recycled granule could have a greater carbon impact. But if in counting what the carbon footprint of a virgin grain really is, also counting the production of the raw material coming from oil refining, the accounts would be different.


Eventually the recycling market must be pushed, supported and improved as, without proper waste management, carbon impact accounts would be far more critical than the current ones.

Automatic translation. We apologize for any inaccuracies. Original article in Italian.



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