So we were all taught in school and especially environmental science classes that paper comes from trees, but really what is paper all made up of? It certainly isn't just a stripped down pine.
In simple terms, paper consists of pulp, filler, water and chemicals. The ingredients are combined according to the unique recipe for each particular paper, and the grades are then produced in a way that ensures they have the desired properties.
According to this source, pulp consists of cellulose fibers that usually come from pulp wood - which in turn comes from trees. The most common wood types used for pulp are aspen, eucalyptus, birch, pine and spruce. Different types of wood are used because the properties of the fibers vary. For example, hardwood fibers are shorter and give the paper good opacity and formation, while fibers from softwood trees are longer and make for a strong paper.
With the chemical method, which produces chemical pulp, cellulose fibers are released from the other constituents in the tree trunk by first being ground into chips and then digested using chemical additives.
Cellulose fibers therefore represent the most important ingredient in paper, although they alone are not enough. Additives are also required, one being filler. As the name suggests, the task of the filler is to fill in the gaps in the complex fiber network. A paper made with filler is softer and more even. It has better formation, higher opacity, better ink-setting properties, a smoother and more flexible surface - all of which make for better printing characteristics.
Chemicals are necessary primarily for paper to be made in the first place, but also to ensure that the finished product has the desired properties, such as extra strength, better water resistance and the right shade.
Paper also contains some moisture in the form of water, commonly between 3.5 and 6.5 per cent. The moisture level depends on the application and printing process the paper is intended to be used in.
So the main things involved in the construction of paper are pulp, filler, chemicals, and water/moisture content. There is a lot of work and energy put into making paper--sometimes paper that we scribble notes on just to toss in the recycle bin at the end of the day. At least, this paper can be re-used, so make sure to make the most of the work and resources used for your one piece of paper and place it in the recycle bin! All it takes is one extra step to place it in the correct blue bin and not the trash can.
Check out the source above that I used for this blog, it talks about the whole process of recycling and production process of paper.
Fun Fact: According to conserveatree.org, 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.
--visit that site to find out more details about calculations made for different trees and different paper types.
and also enjoy this fun George Carlin "Save the Trees" Remix on YouTube