Office Paper Recycling: A Success Story
Office paper recycling, so habitual now, makes it easy to forget that it's much more of a fifty year success story.
The chart bar chart at the top of the page compares the total amount of office paper reaching the municipal waste stream and the percent of office paper being recycled over a forty nine year time span.
Between 1960 and 2000, the amount of office paper arriving in the waste stream reached its maximum point, approximately 7.4 billions tons. At the same time, the shrinking gap between the blue and gray bars for each time interval indicate continued increases in office paper recycling rates.
The most recent office paper recycling statistics show a 74.2% recycling rate by 2010.
The National Office Paper Recycling Project, a 1990 initiative of the United States Conference of Mayors in cooperation with both corporate and public interest groups deserves credit for office paper recycling successes.
The two-fold plant aimed to increase both awareness of recycling issues and actual recycling rates for the paper products used daily in the workplace.
Office paper recycling awareness increased through the introduction of a standardized office paper recycling program for offices across the United States.
The plan recognized that diverse types of paper from newsprint to corrugated boxes to computer paper and more flow in and out of offices on a daily basis. Their office paper recycling guide was broad enough to cover all the paper types potentially in the office waste stream.
Step two of the National Office Paper Recycling Project strategy aimed to improve the business partnership between recyclers in the printing industry and all the paper producing workplaces in a particular city. Offices could plan to either transport their recycled products to, or have them picked up, by the appropriate paper recycling center.
Conference of Mayors participants also maintained an awareness of recycling trends, incorporating them into their program during development.
Current efforts to improve recycling rates focus on improving the standards for post-consumer waste (PCW) content in paper. They support a 30% PCW standard for the most common office paper types. Paper products come in a variety of PCW mixes from 0%-100%.
For comparative purposes, Office Depot announced on May 11, 2005 that they achieved a "26.9% post consumer waste (PCW) recycled content in the paper it used at its nearly 1,000 North American Copy & Print Centers".
Assuming that the 26.9% PCW rate is standard across the industry, reason suggests that paper recycling technology and the industries it supports are not too far behind the Conference of Mayors standard.
© 2006-2012. Patricia A. Michaels