As the public’s awareness of the importance of recycling paper increases, innovative uses for recycled paper are entering the marketplace. The volume of paper that is recycled every year exceeds the estimates that many people thought possible when the movement started and slowly gained momentum. More than half of the paper used in the United States is recycled annually. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the volume now exceeds 44 million tons of waste paper.
Americans have adapted well to the task of placing used paper in recycling bins for curbside pickup, and many efforts to educate the public on the importance of doing so continue to grow. While more than 50% of used paper is recycled, there is almost that much that still goes into landfills. General knowledge about the ways that the process protects the environment is increasing, but little is known about what happens to the material that emerges from the paper recycling process.
Recycled paper is now used as material for kitchen countertops, and it produces a product that is superior to traditional materials in many ways. Some products are made entirely of the paper, and others use approximately 50%. The surface has a warm, neutral appearance that is similar to honed granite or soapstone. Kitchen countertops made of the composite material that includes color pigments and resins among other materials is scratch resistant and stain resistant. Minor stains and scratches disappear when treated with an application of specific products designed for the purpose.
Use of the innovative product extends to purposes other than countertops, as it works equally well where laminate is traditionally used. Partitions in public bathroom stalls, office desks, signs, wall panels and many other interior and exterior applications use the product successfully. Installers appreciate the versatility available in sheets that are as large as 60 inches in width and 144 inches in length that minimize the need to place joints in surfaces.
Earth tones in many shades make the kitchen countertop product suitable for kitchen remodeling or for original construction as well. It is extremely durable and comes with warranties for 15 years or more. The innovative use of recycled paper for functional purposes adds a new dimension to the practicality of recycling waste paper.