Paper production is far from representing an easy process as for one tone of paper, ninety-eight tons of wood and other materials are needed. We can't recycle the same paper indefinitely, theoretically we can reuse paper for about six times at the maximum, but within every new paper manufactured lot, there are fresh fibers added too; so, practically we recycle newer and older fiber at the same time.
Federal laws say that paper can contain between 10% and 100% recycled material. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that 50% should be fresh and 50% recycled; and it is according to the percentage of the recycled paper used, that many governments offer financial support as a reward for the ecological effort pro-recycle paper companies make.
The idea to recycle paper appeared like a necessity for the forest preservation. Statistics show that about 90% of paper is made out of wood and that almost half of the global harvested wood goes to the paper industry. Reforesting is another method used by most wood harvesting companies as an effort to preserve the forest. Estimations indicate that recycling only half of the world's paper would save 80,000 kmē (20 million acres) of forest.
To recycle paper means to save about 50% of the energy cost a company would pay to produce it from fresh wood. This is enough energy to heat up a home for an entire year. More that 35% of the solid waste in a city is paper, recycling it would mean saving lots of trees and energy. Nevertheless, the problem that remains is that the collecting system isn't working perfectly, and it is not used at its real capacity.
When speaking about air and water pollution as influenced by the effort to recycle paper, statistics are very encouraging; EPA claims that recycle paper industries reduce water pollution with 35% and air pollution with 74%. This encouraging levels of successful reprocessing justify the large sums of money governments pay companies that get involved in recycling.
How did it all start? By the beginning of the 19th century the paper industry couldn't keep the pace with the demand for books and writing materials. Therefore recycling paper appeared as a necessity, and old books or books held as invaluable were simply recycled to allow the printing of new ones. In the United States the first paper mill appeared in 1690 while in the 19th century the recycling businesses were turning into a real industry.