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Paper and Cardboard

Paper is one of the most important and widely used consumer materials with an endless ability to be transformed. If it is writing paper, paper used for printing, magazines, newspapers, cardboard or packaging paper all of them are made out of a valuable resource and should be recycled for reuse.

Despite the rapid development of electronic communication systems, demand for paper products is still growing. In 2007-2008, Australians consumed 4,250,000 tonnes of paper. This consumption costs millions of trees - one great reason to recycle.

Download Paper and Cardboard fact sheet (171.17kb)

Impact of paper waste on the environment

Modern paper production involves mechanical, chemical - or a combination of both - pulping to convert raw materials into various paper products. These processes consume large amounts of energy and use valuable natural resources, including trees and water.

Trees are the main resource in the paper production, a tonne of paper consumes approximately 20 full-grown trees while recycling 1 tonne of paper saves 13 trees.

To make just one tonne of paper out of virgin material over 90,000 litres of precious water are used which will fill 450 rain barrels.

Greenhouse gas emissions
When paper goes to landfill it produces dangerous greenhouse gases during decomposition. But already the production of paper emits 1,46 tonnes of greenhouse gases per tonne of paper produced.

Landfill space
Australians send 1.9 million tonnes of paper to landfill each year and most of it can be recycled. Newspaper is the most abundant paper waste, followed by cardboard and magazine/advertising material. All this waste fills up our landfill space, space we are fast running out of.

In 2009, paper and cardboard items accounted for 13% of the total rubbish collected on Clean Up Australia Day. Every Australian office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of A4 paper each year, with approximately 50% of this going straight to landfill.

The Solution: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle


  • Send e-mail instead of distributing printed documents.
  • Minimise printing and use double sided copying where possible.
  • Ask to be removed from junk mail lists and place a 'No Junk Mail' sign.
  • Avoid buying goods which use excessive packaging.


  • Use unwanted printouts as notepaper.
  • Reuse gift-wrapping paper, paper bags, paper boxes, etc.
  • Use shredded paper as packaging.
  • Sell old books and magazines to second hand dealers, or donate them to libraries or charities.


  • Support recycling programs by buying recycled paper and cardboard products.
  • Set up a container for paper recycling at home, the office or at school, especially next to photocopiers or printers.
  • Contact your council for information on your local paper recycling scheme.

Buy Recycled

  • When we 'buy recycled' we are increasing the demand for recycled content products and encouraging the manufacture of recycled products, rather than products made from virgin materials.

Download Paper and Cardboard fact sheet (171.17kb)