Australia’s Recycling Crisis - How to Recycle Paper Properly!
In Australia, it is estimated that we use around 4 million tonnes of paper per year, which equates to approximately 200kg - 230kg per person! When you consider that it takes up to 24 trees to produce just 1 tonne of paper, you can only imagine its impact on the environment. Today, the paper industry requires substantial inputs such as trees, water, energy, and money, and quite often, these paper products go straight to landfill.
Did you know paper biodegradation in landfills can be up to 23 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide?! In Australia, up to 5.9 million tonnes of paper ends up in landfill every year. Reducing this number could help save millions of trees and help to move on to a more sustainable future. Many jobs can be created within the sustainability field only if Australia becomes more sustainability-conscious.
This article will discuss ways to be more sustainable in using and recycling paper as a society.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
You may have heard this term before, and there is a reason for that. Reducing, reusing and recycling paper is the primary way to ensure that your paper does not end up in landfill. Ideally, any paper you want to discard should be recycled correctly or shredded and put into a compost bin.
There are many creative ways that you can reuse your paper. For example, newspapers can be used for present wrapping or scrapbooking. Single-sided printed paper can be used for scrap and used for note-taking or drawing. The most important thing is to use the paper to the fullest extent and when you recycle it, make sure that you do it properly.
Buy, Use and Recycle, Recycled Products
Make sure to support companies that are helping the environment. If everyone who recycles also buys sustainability, only then true sustainability can be achieved. There are many alternatives on the market. Next time you purchase a product, search for an option to see if you can do anything to support sustainability companies.
Our branch at Adarsh Fibre specialises in using recycled paper and cardboard to make eco-friendly products. We help mitigate around 3000 tonnes of waste paper and cardboard from export and landfill per year. By supporting us, you allow us to continue to do more for the environment.
Prompt for Digital Options of Traditional Paper Products
Digital options are becoming a common practice nowadays. More businesses are switching to digital receipts and statements to help reduce the paper that they use per annum. As a consumer, there is still more you can do to reduce paper consumption.
One perfect example in Australia is the delivery of the yellow pages. Nowadays, it is extremely rare for someone to use yellow pages as technology allows us to google phone numbers and addresses. Opting out of receiving the Yellow Pages is quite simple, but many still haven't done it. Other practices could be to put on a "no junk mail" sticker on your mailbox or cancel your newspaper subscription and read the news online.
To opt-out of yellow pages, follow this link: https://www.directoryselect.com.au/action/cancel
Buy Products with less Packaging:
Australians throw away around 1.9 million tonnes of packaging each year. That's enough to fill nine football grounds! Product packaging requires a lot of energy and natural resources to create and are often just thrown into landfill or not appropriately recycled.
Avoid Combined Materials:
Unfortunately, many recycling plants cannot separate combined materials. These materials include coffee cups and laminated paper. Typically, to determine if your coffee cup is recyclable, you will have to ask the store you bought it from. The best practice is to avoid buying materials that cannot be separated or purchasing reusable products.
Do not use plastic bags!
Plant operators are often not allowed to open plastic bags regardless of their contents. So by throwing away your recycling in a plastic bag, you are contributing to landfill.
Additionally, plastic bags will often shut down machinery used at the recycling plant or get caught. When recycling, the best practice is to avoid using any plastic bags at all. If you choose to use a plastic bag, it is best to empty the contents of the plastic bag into the recycling bin before disposing of the plastic bag separately.
Don't contaminate or Wet Recycling Paper.
If you are recycling paper, try to ensure that it is not contaminated with liquid from another item or container. There is no market for wet paper, as many recycling plants will reject soggy or damp cardboard and paper. So if the weather forecast is rainy the night before bin day, it may be best to take them down in the morning.
To ensure that you recycle paper correctly, avoid storing it in locations where it can easily be wet or contaminated.
Do not Shred Paper
Shredding paper reduces fibre lengths, making it more difficult to recycle the paper. Depending on the recycling program in your area, they may or may not accept shredded paper. If your paper has sensitive information, the best practice is to use a black marker to cross it out. This is because Ink is much easier to remove during the recycling process.
In the next few years, there will be massive changes in the way that recycling is operated across the entirety of Australia. The country is preparing to implement a national ban on paper and cardboard exports from 2024. Meanwhile, China, the largest importer of Australia's cardboard, is set to ban solid waste imports from 2021.
With a need to manage the paper and cardboard waste locally, there needs to be sustainable options to dispose of it. Up to 46% of Australia's paper and cardboard waste exports will be banned. So now more than ever, companies should look into supporting locally sourced sustainable, recycled products.