Some Thought-Provoking Facts on Paper, Forests and Recycling

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 12/07/2016

1.  Forest area in the U.S. increased by 5,800 NFL football fields per day between 2007 and 2012.[1]

2.  The volume of wood (trees!) on U.S. timberland increased by the equivalent of 159 Empire State Buildings per year between 2007 and 2012.[2]

3. In 2015, the U.S. recovered enough paper (for recycling) to fill 125 Empire State Buildings.[3]

4.  From 2005 to 2015, U.S. forests stored the equivalent in carbon to taking 137 million cars off the road each year.[4]

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Notes:

[1] Forest area grew by 14 million acres between 2007 (752 million acres) and 2012 (766 million acres) (USDA Forest Service, 2014).  A full football field including the end zones is 360 ft by 160 ft or 1.32 acres (http://www.sportsknowhow.com/football/field-dimensions/nfl-football-field-dimensions.html).  Forest area grew by 10.6 million football fields (14 million acres of forest area/1.32 acres in a field) in five years = 2.1 million per year = 5,811 football field per day.

[2] Net volume growing stock on timberland in the U.S. grew from 942,949 to 972,397 million ft3 between 2007 and 2012 (USDA Forest Service, 2014) - an increase of 29,448 million ft3 = 5,890 million ft3 per year = 16 million ft3 per day. The volume of the Empire State Building is 37 million ft3 (http://www.esbnyc.com/sites/default/files/esb_fact_sheet_4_9_14_4.pdf )

[3] Recycling one ton of paper saves 3.3 cubic yards (89.1 cubic feet) of landfill space (http://www.isri.org/docs/default-source/commodities/fact-sheet---paper.pdf ). Empire State Building = 37 million ft3 (its space saves 415,264 tons of paper).  Paper recovery data was obtained from www.paperrecycles.org

[4]  A conventional gas vehicle in the U.S. emits 2,720 lbs of carbon (10,000 lbs of CO2 eq. per year) (https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/420f08024.pdf ).  There are 2204.62 lbs/metric tonne therefore an average car emits 1.23 metric tonne of carbon/y.  Between 2005 and 2015, carbon stock in the forest rose from 87,271 to 88,961 million MT of carbon - an increase of 1,690 million MT over 10 years or 169 million MT/y (equivalent to 137 million cars) (https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-04/documents/us-ghg-inventory-2016-main-text.pdf  - Table 6-12)