MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology

Re: How many trees are cut down each year to make paper products?

Date: Mon Apr 26 12:21:35 1999
Posted By: Bob Peeples, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Environment & Ecology
ID: 924541376.En

It is difficult to answer your question. Most of the trees that are used to make paper are cut down for lumber, rather than paper, production. The parts that are not useful to the lumber mill are sent to the paper mill. Many trees are farmed spefically for paper production in fields just like corn or wheat or any other crop. Much of the paper industry's pulp comes from recycled paper. A very small number of trees are cut down for paper production alone, but this number is far from the tonnage of paper produced by the world today. When you waste paper, you should be thinking more of the landfill space that is wasted, or the water, chemical, and energy resources required to recycle the paper. This has much greater environmental significance than a number of fallen trees.

We get this question fairly often, but nobody has ever asked how many cornstalks or wheat plants are killed each year.

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