EFCT: Environmental Footprint Comparison Tool.  A tool for understanding environmental decisions related to the forest products industry.  Recycled Fiber. headerlink
Effects of recycled fiber use on solid waste

In general, recycling reduces the amount of total municipal solid waste but increases the amount of solid waste from paper manufacturing itself. Overall, however, recycling tends to reduce life cycle solid waste loads. The solid waste-related benefits of recycling are paper grade-dependent. Assessments of the impacts of recycling on solid waste should address impacts on a) municipal solid waste generation, b) wastes from manufacturing, and c) the options for managing solid wastes.

A major U.S. study of all solid waste generated through the life cycle suggests that recycling results in lowered solid waste across the range of all grades of paper and paperboard.

When looking at solid waste from paper manufacturing itself, recycling can result in equal or larger amounts of solid waste compared to virgin mills making the same products.

When considering these aspects in the context of comparing recycled and virgin fiber, note that trade-offs undertaken at an individual mill site ultimately have cascading effects through the overall industry’s fiber cycle. Given that the recycled and virgin fiber cycles are inherently interrelated, shifts in environmental aspects due to changes in the usage of one fiber type versus another result in shifts elsewhere in the fiber cycle. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool that can help examine these interactions. LCA, particularly in the context of looking at the manufacturing of recycled versus virgin fiber pulp, is discussed in NCASI Technical Bulletin No. 1003.

Follow the links to the right for more information.

More information:

Municipal solid waste

Wastes from manufacturing

Managing solid wastes

Life cycle results for one major U.S. study