According to AISB’s Environmental Change Agent Marion Siekierski, the school wastes around 1.5 million sheets of paper every year.

She says the school has attempted to decrease this number through a variety of methods, such as allowing students to print only in the library (they could print anywhere around the school before this change), and holding a paper recycling competition in the elementary school. Additionally, secondary teachers all transitioned to Google Classroom this year–the first real step to someday going paperless.

You may not know this, but AISB recycles paper through Ecovol, a recycling company supported by the mayor and local council of Voluntari. They start by organizing the paper into three different categories: reusable, newspaper, and packaging or contaminated. The reusable paper gets cleaned, cut, de-inked, and thickened again. Then, it is brightened to remove its yellowish color. Finally, virgin wood fiber is added to the paper, which is then pressed and cut into the right shape.

After this long process, the papers are sold to bigger companies to create products like notebooks. These can be recycled again, but only for about five to seven times.

Paper Recycling in Romania: A Slow Improvement

Romania has one of the lowest recycling rates in Europe. Siekierski explains that this is most likely due to “weaknesses in collection systems and lack of awareness.”

In 2012, Romania buried 99 percent of its “urban rubbish,” according to Scientific American--a far cry from the EU’s goal to recycle half of all its trash by 2020.

The good news is that the country’s recycling system has improved in the last couple of years. In 2014, Green Group and Carrefour Romania installed a recycling station in the Baneasa Mall parking lot. Anyone can recycle paper, plastic or glass bottles, aluminum cans, and various electrical products in exchange for shopping vouchers (price depending on weight and type).

What can we do to help?

A few months ago, as you may have noticed, members from the Eco Council placed two boxes in each classroom around the school, one for reusable and another for recyclable paper. Make sure you’re using these instead of the garbage cans.

Other things you can do to reduce paper waste at home or at school:

  • Reuse one-sided paper for notes.
  • Think before you print; and print double-sided when possible.
  • Buy recycled paper instead of regular.
  • Avoid using single-use paper plates (or plastic ones, for that matter!) and utensils at home, as well as single-use paper cups or bags at the cafe.
  • Use cloths/rags instead of paper towels or napkins.

If you don’t have access to recycling bins around your house, you can download the app Sigurec for free waste pick-up service. The app also allows you to create a personal recycling profile and track how much carbon footprint you’ve reduced.

Tell us: Do you recycle or reuse paper at home? In what other ways can we reduce paper waste at school? Tell us in the comment section below!