Letter to the editor - Recycling ultimately benefits everyone

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By The Staff

Dear Editor,

Recently published columns considered the value of paper recycling and its impact on land use and the demand for trees (Wilson, May 28). Recycling paper does, indeed, suppress demand, and subsequently puts downward pressure on the price of wood fiber. However, a significant elasticity exists in the supply because of the extraction of timber and timber products from our national forests.

Even though harvested timber on public lands was reduced more than 70 percent in the early '90s because of unsustainable and damaging practices, our national forests could greatly benefit from increased recycling of paper products.

With inspired and responsible leadership, increased recycling and moderated demand for wood fiber would create a new window of opportunity -- an opportunity to further implement what was begun on public lands nearly two decades ago, and now with the added incentive of carbon sequestration.

More of us are mindful of the real costs of too many industry practices (degraded watersheds and their impact on water quality, food production, fisheries, wildlife, and recreation, to name a few).

With growing awareness, efforts to mitigate these costs will likely more than offset any softening of prices resulting from recycling.

Mark Hodgson