[GRRN] Response to Betsy Hart article

Gary Liss (gary@garyliss.com)
Wed, 10 Nov 1999 14:10:08

>Subject: Response to article=20
>From: "David Assmann" <dassmann@sirius.com>
>To: mailtohart@aol.com

>I would like to address two issues raised in your article. First you make=
>the statement that "Recycling paper, for instance, does not save trees. The
>vast majority of our paper comes from trees grown on farms for that=
>In fact, there are more trees in the United States today than at any other
>time in this century."
>Only 5% of the virgin (never cut) forests in the U.S. remain intact=
>on the other hand, still has 80% of its original tropical rainforests).
>Less than 10 percent of the forest that once stretched from northern
>California to the Canadian border has been left intact. We=B9ve lost more
>than 30 million acres of timberland since 1962 and we=B9ll lose another 25
>million acres in the next 45 years. Since 1978, the U.S. has cut more trees
>than any other country. We lead the 19 major industrial nations in
>percentage of wooded areas lost in the last two decades.
>Although the forestry industry says it plants millions of trees each year=
>"replace" trees it has cut, many of the seedlings fail to survive,
>particularly in clear-cut forest areas that are prone to erosion. In
>comparing trees cut down to trees planted, the industry usually counts=
>seedling, whether or not it grows into a tree. Even if we end up more
>trees, we are losing both forest acreage and critical bio-diversity=
>even addressing the issue of whether a seedling is a substitute for a
>several-centuries old tree).
>If you compare acreage instead of trees, the story is quite different.
>Timberland area in the United States decreased from 515 million acres in
>1962 to 483 million acres in 1987 and, according to the U.S. Forest=
>will decline to 456 million acres in 2040.
>Approximately 42% of the trees harvested nationwide end up as pulpwood for
>pulp and paper. Less than two-thirds of the trees "harvested" for paper
>come from tree farms - the other third come from land owned by other=
>companies, public lands and national forests. More than half the cubic
>volume of trees harvested in our national forests is used to manufacture
>pulp and paper!
>A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that we would used
>17.6% less pulpwood by 2040 if we increased our wastepaper utilization rate
>to 39%, and a study by U.S. Forest Service research Peter Ince concluded
>that we could reduce our demand for pulpwood by more than 2.5 billion cubic
>feet by 2040 by increase our wastepaper utilization rate to 45% in 2040
>Large scale clearcutting, a practice often used to harvest trees, turns
>forests into farms. Biodiversity disappears, wiping out species of plants
>and animals. A study at the University of North Carolina, for example,
>showed that 80% of all salamanders were wiped out when mature forests were
>turned into clearcuts in the southern Appalachians.
>Destruction of the forests in the Pacific Northwest has global=
>According to Oregon State University researchers, the destruction of the
>ancient forests in northwestern North America over the past 100 years has
>resulted in a net release of 1.8 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere -
>2% of all carbon emissions released worldwide through deforestation and
>other land use changes in the past century.
>Paper recycling is a manufacturing process, but it uses significantly less
>resources than virgin paper manufacturing. A study by the U.S.=
>Protection Agency showed that for every ton of recycled paper we use=
>of virgin paper, we save 4,100 kilowatt hours of energy (that=B9s enough to
>power the average home for six months), conserve 7,000 gallons of water,=
>keep 60 pounds of pollutants out of the air.
>The second issue I wish to address briefly is the economics of recycling.
>Our analysis for the City of San Francisco for curbside recycling has found
>that, on average, garbage collection and disposal costs about $150 a ton.
>Recycling, on the other hand, costs between $70 and $130 a ton (depending=
>the market value for recyclables). Recycling has consistently been less
>expensive than disposal.
>David Assmann
>Recycling and Hazardous Waste Program Manager
>City and County of San Francisco
Gary Liss
Fax: 916-652-0485