Many businesses try to achieve the goal of a paperless office.
However, this is usually because of the mess and confusion that paper documents create, rather than the fact they are striving to reduce the impact on the environment. However, by using less paper, we can help to save the number of trees from being felled, but just how much paper comes from one tree? How many trees can we save by limiting our paper usage?
Can we accurately work out how much paper comes from one tree?
Paper manufacturing uses a mix of different tree types.
While the majority of paper is made from pine trees, often other trees are used to create the pulp that will then become a sheet of paper. As well as the different types of trees used, another consideration is the fact that trees will always vary in the size and shape. Some trees will be tall with thin trunks while others may be shorter and wider. Of course, trees will always vary depending on their age, environment and type of tree.
How much paper comes from one tree, on average?
It is estimated that a standard pine tree, with 45ft of the usable trunk and a diameter of eight inches, will produce around 10,000 sheets of paper. To consider this in another way, one ream of paper (which is 500 sheets) will use 5% of a tree. Using only 5% of a tree for a ream of paper may seem like a small amount, but when you consider the number of boxes of paper that offices use on a regular basis it quickly added up.
In fact, on average, an office will use the equivalent of one tree every year, even in offices that limit their paper usage and strive for a paperless office.
Another consideration is that coated paper that is used for high-quality printing and magazines will require more pulp. In fact, one tone of coated magazine paper uses over 15 trees. For paper used for newspapers, it takes around 12 trees to create one tonne of newspaper. When you consider how many magazines and newspapers are printed and distributed across the world, it is difficult to visualise the number of trees being used.
Considerations for calculations
As well as estimating the typical size and type of tree used for paper creation, there are other considerations that can impact the calculations. These include the quality of paper, with a variety of thicknesses and quality, the amount of wood pulp required to make a tree increases. Other aspects to consider is whether the paper uses recycled material within the pulp and what percentage the recycled material is.
How many trees are felled for paper?
In the last 40 years, paper usage has grown 400%. This means that over two million trees are felled every day for global paper consumption, meaning four billion trees are cut every year to serve our paper needs. When you consider this, it makes you question whether that document is really worth printing.