Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So do you want a free telephone directory ?

So yesterday the telephone company distributed telephone directories in Jerusalem . Loads and loads of big fat directories to everyone , want it or not . Who uses a telephone directory these days ? The print I realised was so small that a granny ( I am assuming its only the granny generation would use a directory ) wouldn't be able to read a thing . Unless you are referring to the Yellow Pages . There is directory service at 144 ( you pay for it ) , there is directory service on the internet at Dapey Zahav and many others . And then it struck me , it is for the yellow pages , it is an advertisement as all the junk 'supplements' that one gets with the weekend newspaper , like the junk newspaper that one is handed out on the traffic crossing . But then how much does this add to the waste stream ? Yesterday the street was littered with the directories and tomorrow all the bins will be full of directories since nobody will bother to take the old ones for recycling . I weighed the directory and it weighs about 800 grams , with a very conservative estimate of 100,000 directories distributed in Jerusalem , it works out to 80 tonnes of newsprint . If 12 pines 40 feet (12.2m) tall, 8 inches (20cm) in diameter trees give a ton of newsprint , so that works out to 960 trees !! If the trees are spaced at 3 meters , each tree takes 9 sq.m which works out to 8640 sq.m of forest . So for the pleasure of distributing free directories in the city of Jerusalem we cut down nearly a hectare of of forest which is between 10-14 years . And we did not begin to talk about the energy required from the raw material stage to the delivery of the product .

So how many trees would make a ton of paper?

Claudia Thompson, in her book Recycled Papers: The Essential Guide (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), reports on an estimate calculated by Tom Soder, then a graduate student in the Pulp and Paper Technology Program at the University of Maine. He calculated that, based on a mixture of softwoods and hardwoods 40 feet tall and 6-8 inches in diameter, it would take a rough average of 24 trees to produce a ton of printing and writing paper, using the kraft chemical (freesheet) pulping process.

If we assume that the groundwood process is about twice as efficient in using trees, then we can estimate that it takes about 12 trees to make a ton of groundwood and newsprint. (The number will vary somewhat because there often is more fiber in newsprint than in office paper, and there are several different ways of making this type of paper.)

Some more paper stats here .

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