First assignment of group n° 005
Resources used by the team
First description of our project
1. WHAT PROBLEM DO YOU WANT TO SOLVE?
Paper production and consumption have grown exponentially in the last decades worldwide. Annually the worldwide production of paper and paper-products is around 400billion tons and in the last 20 years the paper consumption has grown more than 125%.
When we talk about paper consumption, documents and papers used both in offices and schools play a major role. Up to 60% of wasting in schools is paper. The 95% of business documents and information are stored on a paper support. Offices in United States use over 10 trillion sheets of paper annually. Up to 45% of printed papers has a rather short life: it becomes waste in a single day. Paper manufacturing uses a huge amount of water! For example producing 1 kg of paper requires on average over 320 litres of water. This is likely to become less and less sustainable, given the increasing challenges associated with water scarcity. Moreover, paper manufacturing is one of the major cause of forest destruction; therefore, this poses hard challenges for the future. The United States alone uses annually 68 billion trees for paper production and worldwide over 35% of timber harvesting is consumed by paper industry.
The negative effects of paper production to the environment is enormous. Right now, the only way to reduce it is by making recycle paper. The main benefit of doing the recycling paper is decreasing the negative impact to the environment because recycling paper saves energy, reduces pollution, preserves trees and conserves landfill space. But on the other hand, it is also a process that use toxic chemicals, it produces harmful by-products and emissions and it needs a very long set of activities.
It is important to bear in mind that the fibers, contained in paper, can only be recycled five to seven times after that it becomes too short and fragile to be reconverted into new paper. So finally there still will be another virgin paper and cutting trees activities in the future.
The problems linked to paper production and the limits of paper recycling have inspired our challenge to cut paper consumption worldwide. Our challenge is to reduce paper consumption by 50% (the current worldwide production level is slightly less than 400 tons per year) by 2025. This would have extremely beneficial impact on many level, deforestation rate would be reduced, less pressure on global water scarcity, less paper waste and pollution.
2. WHY DOES THIS PROBLEM EXIST?
Inexistence of Innovative Recycling Tools
It is estimated that paper products compose the 35% of the things we waste, and that is the direct cause to deforestation. Actually the recycled paper is used as substitute of other resources, for examples has been created items as bottles or urns of recycled paper that are of course biodegradable, but they become substitute of other matherials, far from reaching the closing of the paper cycle. In the project database of the European Commission there is a Waste Paper to Furniture (WPF) project, where they try to give a life after to wasted paper transforming it to raw material for furniture. Of course with this project The CO2 impact per year will decrease with 68% or close to 25.000 t/year, furthermore the consumption of material it's estimated be reduced of 78% (46.000 t/year). Another problem is that currently not all kind of paper are recyclable, like waxy paper, soiled paper, post-it, tetra pack. Furthermore, in case part of these materials are recycled, they do not be back as paper, but are just reused to make schools items or shopping bags. So, unfortunately, even if impact in paper recycling on CO2 emissions and landfills is good for Earth's health, there are not evidences on a new improving method that aim to close the paper cycle, for a 0 deforestation challenge in long period.
Lack of Responsabilities
Even though we are supposed to put the right stuff in the blue bin, a lot of recyclable material nevertheless winds up crammed into landfills. One of the most noteworthy of these is paper: while 64.6% of paper and paperboard got recycled in 2012, that still left 24.26 million tons of the stuff discarded, according to the EPA. This is why many people do not recycle, or do not it in the right way. Many reasons, as was demonstrated in a report of Ipsos in USA among people that do not recycle, are failure of state or local government: • 25% of people said that recycling is not easily accessible; • 10% said that to recycle they have to waste too time; • 10% said that they just forget to do; • 8% said that they do not know what is recyclable; • 6% said that recycling has a high cost.
A study by Remi Trudel, Jennifer Argo, and Matthew Meng of Boston University and the University of Alberta demonstrated that the failure to recycle is also driven by a cognitive processes with which we automatically categories the things. Due that, we tend to consider paper, or other things, non-recyclable when there is an alteration in form or size.
They conducted two experiments:
1. 150 students were divided in three groups. Each group was next to a different sized piece of paper, full or crumpled up. The findings: those receiving the large and uncrumpled piece of paper said that they were more likely to recycle it.
2. 130 people received a piece of paper with a number printed on it, and were told to memorize the number. Then, someone were told to crumple up the paper while others were told to turn the paper over. A trash bin was near the door, a recycling bin was farther away. The result? Full sheets of paper were recycled 77.4% of the time, whereas crumpled paper was only recycled 7.8% of the time. The researchers however find that showing people a sign of recycling on a paper is useful to correct the category errors.
3. WHAT BREAKTHROUGH ARE YOU COMMIT TO CREATE?
Bringing New Technologies To Recycling
Recycling paper means reprocess waste paper products into new products. It is inevitable that during this process the quality of paper decrease, because fibre strength and length are reduced. However, recovered paper is considered more valuable as a resource rather than junk: the motivation, obviously, is that raw material can be recycled to create new paper and cardboard. Anyway, some feasibility and economics restrictions and operational necessities influence this technology:
1. While almost any paper can be recycled, not all paper products can be recycled.
2. Just because of during recycling process the quality losses, the technique is limited to the number of times a particular piece of paper can be recycled. This causes the need for a constant flow of virgin raw material into the sector.
3. In order to recycle, the technology requires a separation of the waste.
Although the three limitations mentioned, the technology of paper recycling is widely used in many countries worldwide recycling rates have reached approximately 50 %, which means that half of the waste paper products are sent to incineration plants or landfills. In conclusion, these data shows that there is still much potential for the technology of paper recycling, challenging to increase this percentage. The other side of the coin of paper recycling is about labour: like any other process, this creates an additional employment sector, which naturally increases employment opportunities. While supporting social development, the increased employment opportunities provided by the technology also allow economic development. Recycling can offer a lot of others important environmental benefits: for example, can decrease the amount of raw virgin wood needed for the paper production process. Moreover, if a more quantity of paper will be recycled, landfilling space can be used more efficiently, and a bigger part of finite resources used in the production process can be saved.
One of the main targets in liberalized economies is to optimize the market structure. In order to reach this objective and adopt a new process or a new technology in recycling, we must pay attention to the economics of waste management practice, because many different factors could shape the financial and economic environment. General examples can be changes in basic legislative of a country (on landfilling or recycling), or maybe taxes for specific technologies (such as waste incineration). Moreover, investors have also to confront with their costs and financial requirements, of course. Whereas all these reasons, it is clear how difficult it is to provide clear-cut cost figures for recycling practices, but it is also clear that is in the policy makers interest to try to stimulate the various actors in the market to raise investments in recycling and implement technologies associated.
The First Step To a Paperless Era
Nowadays with the technology progress, we are faced to new challenges and asked to think in terms of avoiding a problem instead of resolving it. It’s all about acting before it’s late. Households, organizations, associations and firms all consume a huge amount of paper daily. In the 80’s, as the offices stared to switch to computers and modernized their way of working many thought that it was the beginning of the paperless office era, however paper’s consumption doubled since then.
According to The Economist the biggest consumers in northern countries are the Belgians with the equivalent of 40 foot trees per person over a year seconded by Finnish, Germans and Swedish came respectively third and fifth. The forth place went to the Japanese, surprisingly they all have technology-driven economies. The rest of the top 10 is made up of the U.S, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, South Korea and Canada. In the UK each member uses 4.48 trees per year ranking them eleventh. Then come France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and China, with only a 1.81 trees per person. Azerbaijan has the lowest rate with only 0.16 trees per year making it the most tree-friendly nation.
The problem with the paper consumption is quite simple, people want to switch to digital version of documents but cannot stop using paper, a social research made in Germany among people from 20 to 60 years old showed that during communication, preparation for exams or work 60% would print the digital documents, moreover 70% of a sample of 3000 students prefer preparing their homework and revising on paper, and to 85% of them it’s quite difficult to not use it, and only 15% argued that they have already started the transition and with time they will get over paper’s consumption. The problem is the inefficiency of recycling; it’s a complicated process that costs lots of money, time and natural resources.
Our project consists on shortening the paper recycling process and making it easier and affordable. The transition to a paperless era will start first by reducing the papers ‘consumption. If the west had already developed behaviours allowing the decrease of paper use in households and organisation have enough resources to invest in IT systems and office facilities the rest of the world specially the developing ones haven’t reached that level yet. What we are proposing is a short cut to recycling, allowing more savings in terms of time, money and more important preserving the nature. Our project is based on high technology advancement allowing to fully reusing a used paper. That will directly lead to immediate results.
Our project consists also on developing a system that allows stocking all the information written on the paper –if the user wants to- during the renewing process. We estimate that the first efficient step to a paperless era should start by reducing the actual paper use rate and gradually increment the digital culture in our daily life. This project represents a real chance to both households and offices to reduce their expenses on paper and to institutional organisation on their collecting and recycling costs.
Potential experts already identified
1. Benjamin Adrionthe, www.vivaconagua.org/
2. Felix Finkbeiner, www.plant-for-the-planet.org/en/home
3. Susan Kinsella, internationally recognized leader in environmental paper and sustainable procurement issues, www.linkedin.com/pub/susan-kinsella/5/293/776
4. Jack Miller, THE PAPER GURU founder and Principal Consultant at Market-Intell LLC, www.piworld.com/author/jack-miller/
5. Julian M Allwood, Cambridge lecturer that worked on deinking process, firstname.lastname@example.org
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