Recycled Paper Envelopes: An Ancient Idea with Modern Benefits 

By Michael Love

Recycled envelopes conserve natural resources, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce landfill. It has been estimated that recycling one ton of paper can save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space and 4,000 kilowatts of energy. That’s enough energy to power the average U.S. home for six months! Crazy, huh? But when, exactly, did this recycled paper thing begin?

When Did Paper Recycling Begin?

The concept of making paper from recycled materials is older than you might think. In fact, it began centuries ago in China where paper was invented in about 105.

Paper recycling came to America while it was still an English colony. In 1690 the first paper mill to use recycled materials opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The mill, owned and operated by  a German immigrant, William Rittenhouse, used old rags and cloth to produce paper materials in much the same way as it had been done since the invention of paper in China in 105. During the 1750s Benjamin Franklin was beginning to use scraps of old paper to produce new piece (one of the first instances of paper waste being used in the Americas).

It actually wasn’t until much later that people in the United States started making paper from trees and wood fiber.

How Much Paper Is Recycled Every Year?

But with the sustainability movement, recycled paper products , such as, envelopes are back in vogue. Today, it is estimated  65.4 percent of the paper used in the United States was recovered for recycling, for a total of 51 million tons. That’s a 90 percent increase in the recovery rate since 1990, according to the American Forest & Paper Association.

Approximately 80 percent of U.S. paper mills use some recovered paper fiber to produce new paper and paperboard products.

How Many Times Can the Same Paper Be Recycled?

Paper recycling does have limits. Every time paper is recycled, the fiber becomes shorter, weaker and more brittle. In general, paper can be recycled up to seven times before it must be discarded. But recycling remains an excellent way to keep our planet green. Talk to a Love Envelope rep to learn more about our recycled custom business envelopes.

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