Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paper in trees

Sorry about the week off, I did not feel very well last week. But during the greatness of moaning and slumping around the house, I was asked an interesting question. My grandson, who is in the "why" stage of youth asked me how many papers come from a tree. Seeing as paper, even in today's paperless society still plays a big role, I though it would be a nice fun fact. So next time your at work, or just need something to start the awkward conversations, tell them about this.

How much paper can you get from one tree? It depends.

First, unit measurements of pulpwood (for paper and packaging) and sawlogs (for lumber and wood products) are in "cords" and "board feet" respectfully. A pulpwood cord is a stack of logs four feet tall, four feet deep and eight feet long (4 x 4 x 8). All measurements of how much wood fiber is used to produce paper products are in cords or tons.
Second, the initial step in preparing logs for pulpmaking is to remove the bark. It is unsuitable for paper production, but is burned by paper firms to produce energy. However, depending on the type of tree, bark can account for 10 to 20 percent of a tree’s volume.
Third, different trees yield varying quantities of pulp. It varies, for example, by species (hardwood, softwood and aspen) and subspecies (red pine, jack pine, white pine).
Fourth, different paper grades — tissue, computer, magazine, book — require different volumes or densities of pulp. Even within the book grades, there are different weights of paper which require more or less volume of pulp (and wood fiber).
Because of these variables, it isn’t possible to determine how many books are made from a single tree. However, it is possible to estimate — in general numbers — how many different products may be produced from a cord of wood.

Fun fact of the fun fact:
An acre of forested land may yield an average of 10-15 cords of wood when harvested at maturity — depending not only on the size of the trees, but how productively the land has been managed.