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ScienceNostalgia101

Paper incineration vs. paper recycling

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So from my understanding, paper is mostly just wood pulp, with a few other chemicals added. If trees weren't cut down to make wood, they would die in nature. If they died in nature; they would at best give off carbon dioxide; at worst give off even worse greenhouse gases like methane. (I think it's typically both, with how much of each depending on what kind of decomposers get at it?)

 

So what's the deal with paper recycling? Why are we even recycling paper at all, when burning it would at worst produce the same end-result as a tree's best-case scenario in nature, and at best could be used as a source of heat energy that reduces combustion of other, less renewable materials?

 

Is the issue with the fumes from combustion of chemicals in paper? If so does it depend on the paper, and how does that compare to the fumes that would be given off from some recycling truck taking the paper all the way to... wherever it's recycled? And even if it is, why is electricity considered a more efficient way to head a home than, let's say, an old-fashioned wood-stove? Again, the choice is between that tree giving off CO2 in your stove vs. that plus worse gases in nature... why is the latter considered a preferable option?

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I don't know much on the subject of decomposition, but by removing trees you are removing a component to the ecosystem, even things that are dead are useful to the ecosystem. While trees do release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when they die, according to an article I read it seems that if trees did die and produce large amounts of co2 experimentally your data will show pulses of increased co2 in our atmosphere. 

Here is a link to the research mentioned in the article https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ele.12097 

The main problem I see with simply burning paper is that perhaps the reason is that the energy density of the paper itself is simply not as efficient and sustainable as other energy sources such as electricity or natural gases. 

As for why we recycle paper here is a article you can read https://www.thoughtco.com/the-benefits-of-paper-recycling-1204139 

Hope this helped 

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