EFCT: Environmental Footprint Comparison Tool.  A tool for understanding environmental decisions related to the forest products industry.  Recycled Fiber. headerlink
Effects of recycled fiber use on emissions to air

Increased recycling can affect combustion-related emissions and emissions associated with mill processes, but the effects are very different and must be considered separately. Fuel combustion-related emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are not well correlated with whether the mill is a virgin mill or a recycling mill. The amounts of combustion-related emissions are related primarily to the type of fuel, the amounts burned, the type of combustion device, and the emission control devices being used. Because virgin mills often burn more fuels on-site, fuel combustion-related emissions are often higher from virgin mills than recycling mills making comparable grades. There are also fuel combustion-related emissions, however, from off-site suppliers of electricity. When the emissions associated with purchased electricity are included, the differences between virgin and recycled mills essentially disappear (except perhaps for newsprint). Other emissions, primarily from mill processes, can differ between virgin and recycled production. However, because the different substances emitted are not of equal environmental or human health significance, it is not possible to say whether there are overall benefits to air emissions associated with increased recycling. The differences in the emissions of particular substances, however, are sometimes significant.

When considering these aspects in the context of comparing recycled and virgin fiber, note that trade-offs undertaken at an individual mill site ultimately have cascading effects through the overall industry’s fiber cycle. Given that the recycled and virgin fiber cycles are inherently interrelated, shifts in environmental aspects due to changes in the usage of one fiber type versus another result in shifts elsewhere in the fiber cycle. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool that can help examine these interactions. LCA, particularly in the context of looking at the manufacturing of recycled versus virgin fiber pulp, is discussed in NCASI Technical Bulletin No. 1003.

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Fuel combustion-related emissions