The Symbiotic Relationship between Harvesting and Recycling

Reuse-Reduce-RecycleWithout fresh wood fiber, recycled fiber would quickly run out and the recycled paper supply would dry up in months.

Sometimes things just work. Like PB&J, March and college basketball, even sustainable tree harvesting and the recycled paper industry.

We are huge fans of paper recycling; we do it in our facilities, and we also are happy to accommodate customers who want to use recycled papers in their printing projects. But what you might not know is that the wood fibers in a sheet of paper can only be recycled about five times before they start to break down and become unusable on their own. (source:

Those recycled fibers need the addition of fresh wood fiber into the mix; without it, the recycled fibers would run out and the supply of recycled paper would dry up in short order.

That’s where sustainable forestry comes in, a concept that not only supports the recycled paper industry but has positive environmental impacts in other areas.

“Papermaking creates the need for a dependable supply of responsibly grown wood fiber,” according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. “The reliable income landowners receive for trees grown on their land encourages them to maintain, renew and manage this valuable resource sustainably. This is an especially important consideration in places facing economic pressures to convert forestland to non-forest uses.”

And when a forest remains standing and is properly managed, the benefits are widespread.

“Responsibly managed forests are necessary for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystems services, both on individual sites and within the wider landscape,” notes a 2010 report from the World Wildlife Fund. “Forest management, including intensive commercial management, can be a critical and cost- effective conservation tool within larger-scale conservation strategies. Well-managed commercial or community forests can, for example, provide vital buffers for and links between protected areas. Forest management should therefore seek to maintain forest quality and not degrade either the timber resource or the range of associated goods and services (non-timber forest products, environmental services, biodiversity, spiritual values, recreational uses, etc.).”

So keep recycling your paper, and choose to print on recycled stock if it fits your company’s missions and goals. Meanwhile, know that the paper industry will continue to work toward ever more responsible harvesting to maintain the quality and quantity of the paper supply, while contributing to the world-wide conservation efforts.