Why is it important to recycle paper?

Why is it important to recycle paper?

Your hairdressing salon disposes of a great deal of paper and cardboard. Even if yours is a “paperless” business (for example, if you don't offer receipts), it’s likely that a lot of your inventory comes in small branded boxes, which were probably shipped to you in larger boxes! You may also have an assortment of magazines or newspapers that you offer for reading material, and we all know how bits of paper and packaging can pile up in the salon. If you want to learn more about recycling paper waste in your hair salon, keep reading!


So, what do you do with all that paper, card and packaging? The good news is that it’s highly recyclable, and can be disposed of responsibly! Let’s break down why it’s important to recycle paper and how you can minimise paper waste in the first place. 


Kilo for kilo paper could be doing more harm than plastic, due to deforestation and unsustainable practices. However, the solution is not plastic or another material, but the way we consumer and design materials to make them part of a circular economy. Building on the comparison between paper and plastic, paper production requires much more energy than that for plastic. Paper is also heavier so transporting it requires more energy, and it is not nearly as durable as plastic. This means that paper packaging or bags can only be used a very limited amount of times compared to plastic - but, to be clear, paper bags only need to be reused a small number of times to become more ‘environmentally friendly’ than single-use plastic bags. Just because paper is a renewable material doesn’t mean it’s always better! To bring another material into the mix, cotton has to be used well over a hundred times to even out its impact. 


By recycling paper waste, we reduce the need for ‘virgin materials’, which in this case, is brand new paper straight from the forest. Recycling paper helps us to reduce deforestation, reduce the energy needed to process virgin paper and keep materials in circulation, reducing landfill waste. 

Paper bales

Image: Photo by Alex Fu from Pexels

Here are some facts from Pratima Bajpai’s book about recycling paper, to show the scale of the problem and how recycling provides a solution…


  • Using recycled paper to make new paper reduces the number of trees that are cut down, conserving natural resources. 


  • Every tonne of recycled fibre saves an average of 17 trees plus related pulping energy. 
  • Compared with virgin paper, producing recycled paper involves between 28% and 70% less energy consumption. Also, less water is used. This is because most of the energy used in papermaking is the pulping needed to turn wood into paper.
  • Recycled paper produces fewer polluting emissions to air and water. Recycled paper is not usually re-bleached and, when it is, oxygen rather than chlorine is usually used. This reduces the amount of dioxins that are released into the environment as a by-product of the chlorine bleaching processes.
  • High-grade papers can be recycled several times, providing environmental savings every time.
  • Producing recycled paper actually generates between 20% and 50% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than paper produced from virgin fibres.

Convinced? We thought so! If you’re not already recycling paper waste (and cardboard too!) in your salon, we have the solution. It’s a weekly collection of your paper, plastic and card recycling - keeping it easy and all in one place. You can learn more about this service (costs starting from £110 for a year) here


Now we know why it’s important to recycle paper, and how your can recycle in your salon, here are our top tips for reducing the amount of paper waste that’s in your salon in the first place!


Paperless receipts and invoices: Many point of sale (POS) systems now let businesses offer their in-store customers paperless receipts which can be sent by email or text message! This is good news as many receipt printing systems are designed for BPA-containing paper which is both toxic and non-recyclable.. Similarly, invoicing can be prepared without paper and there are many options on the market for all sizes of business. These two simple solutions will be huge steps in helping to fully digitize your salon and banish unnecessary paper from your business space


“Going paperless”: By going paperless, we mean organising and managing your business completely digitally thereby eliminating actual, physical paper for things like paychecks, invoices, bills and tax returns. It involves digitally archiving all of your businesses current and past documents and integrating a virtual management system for future documents.

Reusable cups: When you and your stylists go for a cuppa, bring your own mug or reusable cup. Plus, offer your clients normal coffee cups or fully paper ones (ie. not plastic lined - they can’t be recycled with your normal paper recycling). If you serve clients snacks too, old fashioned cutlery and plates are the best way to reduce waste and keeps items in reuse. 

 Green trees in a forest

Photo: Photo by Matthew Montrone

Responsibly managed forests: Most of us have heard of FSC or at least spotted the label but how many of us actually understand what they stand for? The Forest Stewardship Council has created voluntary standards for forestry management so that consumers can see whether the product they are looking at comes from sustainable sources. The criteria for a sustainably managed forest goes beyond environmental factors (eg protecting biodiversity). It is also designed to safeguard social rights (eg supporting Indigineous Peoples that live and work in affected forests) and promote economic prosperity for smallholders (eg small-forest producers). Others prescribe to other ideals around sustainable management (eg PEFC or Rainforest Alliance). On the other hand, however, the world is rife with forest mismanagement and unmonitored deforestation so it is our recommendation to do your research and only accept verifiable sources.


Compost: Paper is great for your compost. A healthy compost heap has a good balance of “greens” that are rich in nitrogen (eg vegetable scraps, fresh grass clippings and hair) and “browns” that are rich in carbon (eg paper, dry leaves and eggshells).


To sum up, we should be working on reducing the amount of paper and card waste in hair salons, making sure any paper bought is sourced from sustainably managed forests, and recycling all paper and card that cannot be reused!


This article was written for Green Salon Collective by MeetthefiveRs and edited by Jess Rigg

Cover Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

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