Aware of the importance of using recycled paper and considering our love for Ibiza and for preserving our island, several years ago we began considering how we could reduce the use of paper at our company. We wanted to implement a responsible use that was commensurate with our environmental awareness and where respect for the environment is one of the main objectives in our daily operations.
In July 2018 we launched our first leaflets made using 100% recyclable paper, chlorine-free and biodegradable. We are the first to do so in our sector and would like for more companies to begin using recycled paper. We understand that conserving our resources is a global issue and therefore, in the following post we would like to show you this technique and introduce some of the most commonly used methods.
Water based inks
Inks are usually made using petroleum based solvents. When these are exposed to water, they contaminate the groundwater and the soil. These inks can also emit volatile organic compounds VOCs that are toxic to humans. These compounds are also ozone precursors and are therefore harmful to health, crops and fields.
The water-based inks that are used for our leaflets notably decrease the emission of VOCs. This reduces the environmental impact and improves the working conditions of employees tasked with printing the leaflets. Another consequence of using inks made using petroleum-based solvents is that the process of cleaning the machines and equipment generate a large amount of VOCs and hazardous waste such as rags. This can be prevented by using water-based inks for printing.
Bleaching of paper
Three methods are used for bleaching the paste during the paper manufacturing process. The method that was previously used and which use has been drastically reduced since 1990 is a method that uses elemental chlorine. This method of bleaching is currently prohibited by the European Union. Another method based on this element is one that uses chlorine dioxide, which is applied to 84% of the paste in the paper that is currently being produced in the world. This component is much less toxic that elemental chlorine but it is not completely safe and its level of toxicity is subject to controversy.
The third method for bleaching the paper paste is one used for producing recycled products. In this case the paste is either not bleached or sodium hydrosulphite is used, which is a completely chlorine-free chemical.
This method, although not widely used since it is only used in 5% of the paper that is produced, provides some advantages. The first advantage is that the paper does not absorb chlorine and therefore is completely bio-compostable. The second advantage is that less water is used for bleaching and a large percentage of it can be reused. The third advantage is that the residual water is much easier to treat when this bleaching method is used.
Leaflets made using recycled paper must naturally degrade without harming the environment. This is why we also need to use water-based and non-toxic inks for printing. Another requirement is that the paper must be bleached using chlorine-free products.
Protecting the environment
Trees are a source of raw materials; the so-called virgin paper paste, for paper producing industries. At least 4000 million trees are felled on the planet each year and the species that are most often subjected to this process are the eucalyptus and the pine.
A suitable collection and separation of paper and cardboard allows for proper recycling these as well as other recyclable materials such as plastic, glass, metal and bio-waste collected in bio-compostable bags; the composting process may be industrial or domestic. The separating of materials in blue containers prevents the paper and cardboard from becoming stained or contaminated, which would make them harder to recycle.
Recycled paper and cardboard may be reused almost entirely considering that 1000 kilograms will generate 900 kilograms of products made with recycled paper. After collecting and separating, the recycled paper paste is cleansed of possible foreign elements and it is separated from the ink. Then, it is subjected to a drying and pressing process to make the paper. You must know that the complete process may be carried out several times but nearly 15% is lost each cycle due to cellulose fibres that are too short.
Benefits of recycled paper
The use of recycled paper plays a major role in preserving the natural resource constituted by cellulose fibres, extending its service life for several cycles. Also, the following positive effects are generated by conducting a good recycling through a proper separation of the collected materials.
1. The use of cardboard and paper waste closes a cycle where new products are produced. You may be surprised to know that 69% of the supplies required by the paper and cardboard industries could be satisfied if all the paper and cardboard waste that is generated was recycled. These materials replace virgin paper paste, thus preventing felling and deforestation.
For every 1000 kilograms of recycled paper, 12 to 14 trees are saved, which equates to 4 cubic metres of wood. We calculate that one tree is saved for each person that recycles or reuses the paper they use in a year.
2. The amount of biodegradable materials that are deposited in waste dumps is notably reduced, thus limiting the emissions of Greenhouse Gases or GHG. A ton of recycled paper saves 2.3 tons of CO2, which would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and one of the main contributors to climate change.
3. The amount of space required for this purpose is also reduced, thus limiting the degradation of the land. A ton of recycled cardboard and paper reduces the waste reaching the dumps by 3.5 cubic metres.
4. The processes that use recycled paper instead of virgin paper consume 80% less water, which, as you may suppose, results in a substantial savings. One ton of recycled paper saves 26 cubic metres of water. On the other hand, the use of chemical products required in these industrial processes is also reduced.
5. A 70% energy savings is generated when recycled paper and cardboard are used. Recycling 1000 kilograms of paper and cardboard saves 4,000 kilowatts of power per hour. This is due to the cost of the industrial treatment of virgin wood, which is much higher.
6. The atmospheric pollution resulting from gas emissions has been reduced by 74% and water pollution is reduced by 35%. This is the best example of how recycling helps the environment.
7. The development of paper and cardboard waste collection and treatment sectors has a positive impact on the economies by creating new jobs.
8. Conifer or eucalyptus trees that are planted to supply the paper production industry replace the forests comprised of other species of trees, which harms biodiversity.
9. The separate collection of waste at home and at the workplace generate awareness in people regarding preserving the environment and in using renewable resources.
Recycling paper and cardboard prevents deforestation in areas where trees used by the paper production industry grow. For several reasons, deforestation is occurring more frequently in many areas of the planet. One of these reasons is the clearing of forests to produce paper.
Deforestation contributes to accelerating climate change since it decreases the absorption of CO2 by part of the trees. As you well know, another negative effect of deforestation is that it destroys the habitat of the fauna and flora, thus affecting and diminishing the biodiversity of the region.
On the other hand, deforestation leads to a loss of topsoil, since the leaves that fall from the trees degrade by the effect of micro-organisms, which fertilises the ground. Also, the loss of trees alters the rain cycle, decreasing the amount of precipitation. A loss of fertility of the soil and less rain leads to a desertification process, a consequence of which fertile lands become barren and hard to recover.
With this explanation we understand how the use of leaflets made with recycled paper has a positive impact on our planet. You must know that nearly 20% of the waste generated by cities is cardboard and similar type wrapping materials as well as paper used for printing documents, magazines and newspapers. Of this waste, 70% is recoverable.
Different decrees, laws and provisions in Spain as well as the European Union are aimed at setting goals for reducing waste that is recyclable and which unfortunately end up in waste dumps.
At Prestige Properties we are committed to protecting the environment and have implemented the newest and safest processes to preserve it.