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June 24, 1992

Recycling and Recycled Paper

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Publishing Operations, American Medical Association, Chicago, Ill.

JAMA. 1992;267(24):3333-3334. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480240095043

Mention using recycled paper and many people think of tall trees in pristine forests being saved from a lumberjack's saw. While it is true that when paper is recycled fewer trees need to be cut, that is not the real issue. Trees used for making paper are a renewable resource. They are planted and harvested much like any other crop. More central to the issue of recycling is reducing the amount of paper waste going into landfills by making paper products easier to recycle, recycling them, and of course, using recycled paper when possible.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate more than 180 million tons of garbage each year; nearly 75% of this garbage ends up in municipal landfills. Paper and paperboard products constitute nearly 40% of the total garbage generated. The magazine industry's share of the total waste is 2.5% (4.5 million tons).

Within the last