Do You Know These Facts About Paper?

Paper and packaging characters in the forest

You know paper is recyclable. You know it comes from trees. But did you know that the paper industry plays an integral role in protecting the forest lands of the United States? Or that foresters grow more wood than they harvest?

Our true-false quiz will help you learn some fun facts about paper—and about its importance in caring for the planet.

Do you know paper facts or paper fictions? Print out this quiz for a simple lesson in ecology.
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  1. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the number of trees planted in the United States has decreased by 20%.
    False. There are actually 20% more trees in the United States today than there were during the first Earth Day.
  2. Forestry is responsible for the largest supply of municipal drinking water in the country.
    True. The paper industry helps ensure that forests are cared for, which translates to healthy drinking water. In fact, forest cover has been linked to lowering costs of treating drinking water. The more forests in a watershed, the less treatment needs to be done. Drink up!
  3. Trees in U.S. forests absorb more carbon dioxide than forestry related activities produce.
    True. This makes them effective “carbon sinks," the term for an environment that absorbs more carbon dioxide than it releases.
  4. Americans love to recycle—we recycle paper, glass, metal and plastic equally.
    False. Way more paper is recycled than anything else. In fact, on average, paper and cardboard account for 75% of packaging materials recovered for recycling in the U.S.
  5. The paper industry uses every part of the tree.
    True. The industry uses every part of the tree, down to its bark, which can be used to generate bioenergy. Some mills actually produce more energy than they consume thanks to biomass energy.
  6. Paper mills typically reuse water at least 10 times before purifying and returning it to waterways.
    True. Making paper uses a lot of water, but producers return most of what they use after responsible treatment.
  7. There are more trees planted every day in the U.S. than there are people in Chicago.
    True. Every day, 3.2 million trees are planted in the country—more than Chicago’s 2.7 million residents.
  8. Paper is a main cause of litter on America’s beaches.
    False. Paper is not among the top 10 materials found in beach litter.
  9. It’s important to recycle paper because it comes from a renewable resource.
    True. It’s important to recycle paper as a part of caring for the planet. Paper is made from trees—a renewable resource—and recycled paper pulp. The forest industry grows more trees than it harvests each year.
  10. More than 90% of corrugated boxes and containers in the U.S. are recovered for recycling.
    True. It’s 96.4%, to be precise.
  11. Americans are consistently getting better about not sending paper to landfills.
    True. In 2018, we sent about 21.3 million tons of paper to landfills—down from 33 million tons in 2008, about one-third less.
  12. It’s important to go paperless for things like bills in order to “go green.”
    False. Don’t fall for claims like these—they are often unsubstantiated. In North America, 120 companies—including many from the Fortune 500—have clarified or removed such claims. Electronic infrastructures have an environmental footprint as well. For example, the U.S. collected about 22% of the country’s e-waste in 2016, compared with its paper recovery rate of 68% in 2018.
  13. Roughly half of the average corrugated cardboard box is made up of recycled materials.
    True. And nearly all corrugated boxes are used to make recycled paper products.

Learn more about Forestry, as well as the added benefits and solutions from our other industry associations on our Association Partners page.

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