How Many Pieces of Paper in a Tree (The Real Scientific Answer)

How many pieces of paper in a tree? The real scientific answer can be a little tricky to figure out without specifics, since the type and size of the tree, as well as the moisture content and harvesting process can impact how many pieces of paper you get from one tree.

However, it can be done

Generally speaking, the formula for calculating the area of a circle is used to determine the rough amount of paper that can be produced from a single tree.

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For example, assuming that a tree is 45 feet high and 8 inches across, eight trees produce between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds of paper. Since the weight of an average 500-sheet packet of paper is 5 pounds, a tree has between 10,000 and 20,000 sheets of paper.

But, that’s not the full story.

Paper production has been around for hundreds, even thousands of years. And although improvements in both the quantity and quality of paper yields have increased, the process that is used today is essentially the same as it’s always been: fibrous pulp and water are combined and allowed to dry.

But, the real problem with calculating how much paper one tree can produce is knowing what kinds of paper is being made (regular copy or notebook paper…or card stock weights). This impacts how much paper can be gleaned from a single tree.

Keep reading to learn more.

How Many Pieces of Paper in a Tree? Real Calculation

It’s hard to come up with an exact estimate because of the size of the trees,5 the pulping process used, the weight of the wood, the type of wood, the type of paper being made and other factors all play a role on how much paper can be produced. However, the standard principle is that 128 cubic feet of timber weighing 2 tons produces between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds of paper.

To get the number of trees in a ton, assume that each tree has a 45-feet height and an 8-inch diameter.1 Use the πr2 formula (area of a circle) to get the cross-sectional area of the tree, then multiply it by height.

You’ll discover that it contains approximately ten cubic feet of wood. Therefore, it takes around eight trees to produce that pound of paper. Since the weight of an average 500-sheet packet of paper is 5 pounds, a tree has between 10,000 and 20,000 sheets of paper. Though it sounds like a small amount, consider the variables and the vast amount that isn’t recycled during the pulping process.1

Last year alone, the U.S. produced approximately 20 tons of paper, from between 55 and 110 million trees. However, according to the American Forest and Paper Association, the country only recycles about 53% of paper.

How Many Pieces of Paper in a Tree on Average? How Paper Is Made

How many pieces of paper in a tree? When you use the πr2 formula (Area of a circle), it is approximated that an average standard pine that measures 45 feet long and 8-inch diameter produces 10,000 sheets of paper.2,6 To put it into a simple perspective, 500 sheets of paper (a ream of paper) use 5% of a tree.1 Wood is converted into paper during the pulping process.

The pulp and paper industry uses various pulping processes to turn wood pulp into a consumer good. Paper is produced using two main methods; machine and manual dependent pulping. Whichever technique is used in paper manufacturing, the pulp is the most vital element, and specially grown trees are harvested for this purpose.

Industry professionals indicate that approximately 24 trees must produce 1 ton of printing paper when the pulp mill uses chemical pulping. The 24 trees combine hardwoods and softwoods, each about 6-8 inches in diameter and 40 feet tall.

The experts also indicate that the chemical pulping process is highly ineffective because of the substantial trees used in making paper. For this reason, the mechanical pulping process is preferred by many producers because it uses fewer raw materials (12 trees, a mixture of softwood and hardwood).

How Many Reams of Paper in a Tree? (How Many Pieces of Paper in a Ream?) Is It Realistic?

Since a standard pine tree measuring 45 feet long and 8-inch across produces 10,000 sheets of paper and a ream of paper equals 500 sheets of paper, basically each softwood tree contains about 20 reams of paper. To put it into a simple perspective, 500 sheets of paper (a ream of paper) use 5% of a tree.2

CLose up image of a ream of white copy paper from the side, showing the individual sheets of paper.

How Many Pieces of Paper Equal a Tree? Is It Practical?

When you calculate the number of sheets of paper on the same standard pine tree using the πr2 formula, you’ll get 10,000 sheets of paper.4

Since paper is a resource that is needed for many activities, trees that are used to create paper are generally grown for that specific reason. And, the benefit is that while growing, the trees do sequester carbon emissions and the harvested trees are continually being replaced.

How Much Paper Do You Get From a Tree? Does It Produce That Much?

How many pieces of paper in a tree? It is hard to arrive at the correct approximation since trees vary in size and weight and undergo the pulping process.

Nonetheless, 128 cubic feet or a cord of wood of 8 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet produces an average of 10,000 sheets of paper.4

In the paper pulping process, trees are the most significant resource. It is approximated that 24 trees make 1 ton of paper in the chemical pulping process. 50% of the wood is lost during the paper pulping process as it is unsuitable for paper. Much of it also goes unrecycled.4

How Much Wood Goes Into a Piece of Paper?

The mechanical pulping process uses 12 trees to make 1 ton of paper, while the chemical pulping process uses 24 to make the same amount.

Much wood is wasted during the chemical pulping process, so this is not the preferred method unless the paper material created requires chemical pulping.3

Extreme close up of a tree cut, showing circles of rings.

Is Paper Made Out of Wood or Leaves?

Paper is made from hardwood and softwood trees. However, close to 85% of the wood pulp used to make paper in the United States comes from softwood coniferous trees. These trees have longer fibers that produce strong paper. Some of the trees in this category include larch, pines, hemlocks, spruces, and firs.

These trees are grown for the specific production of paper. The real cost to the planet comes in the form of energy used to generate the product, and the waste that accumulates in landfills.

Since paper can be recycled, it can be a sustainable product when produced ethically and Eco-consciously.

Are Trees Cut Down for Paper? Is There an Alternative?

Whether the industry uses chemical or mechanical pulping, the pulp is the primary raw material. In the pulp-making process, a vast number of trees are specifically grown. What determines the number of trees needed is the pulping method. Pulp is a fibrous mass resulting from the rupturing of the bonds that hold the wood cell together.

Pulping is done chemically, thermochemically, mechanically, or by combining these methods. In approximating the number of trees needed per 1 ton of pulp, the following data is required: the gravity of specific wood species, pulp yield, and moisture content of the pulp. The amount of pulp yielded from given tree species is influenced by the method of the pulping process.

Close up of an ax embedded into the stump of a tree with a blurred campite with a camp fire in the background.

The highest pulp yield comes from the mechanical process as it reduces all the wood to a fibrous mass of pulp. The lowest pulp yield is acquired from chemical digestion, giving the pulp pure cellulose fibers.7 The chemical pulp-making method requires three standard processes; kraft, sulfite, and soda processes.

Related reading: How many trees cut down each year?

How Many Tons of Paper is Recycled? Is It Enough?

You use paperboard and paper products every day, from food packaging to newspapers to office paper. In fact, in the United States alone, paperboard and paper products contribute to the most significant percentage of municipal waste and, as a result, offer a considerable opportunity to recycle.4

More than 68 million tons of paperboard and paper products are recovered and recycled in the United States annually, achieving a 65% recycling rate. In 2021, 36 percent of the recovered and recycled paper and paperboard product was used to produce containerboard, and 12 percent made boxboard. Only close to 22 million tons of paperboard and paper products went into landfills.

Is Recycled Paper Better for the Planet? Or, Is It Worse?

The primary intent of recycling paper is to reduce the impact of paper manufacturing on the environment. You can recycle paper and paperboard products as many as 5 to 7 times.

Paper experts indicate that the paper industry can prevent 17 trees from being cut down when one ton of the paper is recycled.

To calculate the number of trees saved from recycling paper, multiply the number of trees needed to make 1 ton of the type of paper (for example, freesheet or groundwood), then multiply this number by the percentage of the recycled paper content.

Close up of natural brown paper envelops with torn edges.

Although the energy used to recycle paper also has it’s own carbon footprint, recycling paper can reduce the waste accumulated every year and prolong the life of the wood that was used to create the paper in the first place.

For companies and individuals who want to totally offset their paper footprint, a tree planting carbon offset program, offered by one of the top carbon offset providers can not only plant new trees where they have been lost, but also can help protect existing forests. on our planet and have a positive impact on the environment, emphasis should be put on recycling more paper. Recycling reduces the number of trees cut down for pulping and the question of how many pieces of paper in a tree will turn to how many carbons offset per tree.

So, how many pieces of paper in a tree all depends on the type of tree, its size, and how it is harvested, but in order to reduce paper usage, recycling and buying recycled paper is crucial, instead of simply throwing it away.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Many Pieces of Paper in a Tree

How Many Trees Are Wasted for Paper?

Roughly 1 billion trees worth of paper is discarded annually in the United States. Every American consumes 85 million tons of paper annually.4

How Much Wood Does a Tree Produce?

The amount of paper produced from a single tree depends on the type of tree, it’s size, and the type of paper being made.

How Much Is a Cord of Wood?

Pulp and fuelwood are sold and measured by the cord,6 and the standard cord measures 8 feet long, 4 feet high, and 4 feet wide, or 128 cubic feet.

What Type of Wood Is Used for Paper?

While most of the paper comes from coniferous trees, other trees are also used to make pulp that will get converted to sheets of paper. Apart from the different types of trees, the size and shape of the trees are also considered during papermaking.

What Is Lumber Worth?

The majority of the landowners clear-cut their trees when they are 25 years and above since these trees have attained the highest saw-timber category. Here’s the worth of an acre of timber.

Pine Timber Values/Acre
YearPlantation*Natural
2018$1,694$1,738
2019$1,566$2,055
*Average of all age classes excluding<15 (clearcut)

 What Is a Load of Firewood Called?

The cord is used to measure pulpwood and firewood in Canada and the United States.8

What's the Eco-Cost of Paper?

A ton of regular paper uses two cords of wood, 55 gallons of water, 289 pounds of clay, 102 pounds of Sulphur, 112 kilowatt of power, 1.2 tons of coal, 108 pounds of starch, 20 pounds of pigments and dye, and 350 pounds of lime, as well as other raw materials.2

How Many Trees Does It Take to Make One Ton of Paper?

It takes an average of 12 trees to produce 1 ton of 100% non-recycled paper. A carton of ten reams of 100% non-recycled 20-lb requires more than half a tree, while one tree makes 8,333.3 sheets of paper or 16.67 reams of copy paper.4

Why Are So Many Trees Cut Down to Make Paper?

The pulp is an essential component in the chemical and mechanical pulping process, and a significant number of trees are felled to make it. What is considered most in determining the number of trees used in the pulping process the pulp mill uses.

How Much Paper Does a Cord of Hardwood Produce?

The common principle is that 128 cubic feet or a cord of hardwood weighing 2 tons produce 1000 to 2000 pounds of paper.4

Is Virgin Copier Paper Worse Than Other Papers?

Twenty-four trees are felled to make one ton of virgin copier pages. However, recycled paper saves 7.2 trees per ton.4


References

1How Stuff Works. (2000, April 1). How many sheets of paper can be produced from a single tree? howstuffworks. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from <https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/question16.htm>

2Ruark, C. (2014, July 10). How many sheets of paper does one tree produce? Business Finance Corporation. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from <https://bfc.vegas/how-many-sheets-of-paper-does-one-tree-produce/>

3Fleming, E. (2020, April 17). How many sheets of paper does one tree produce? Sid Martin Bio. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from <https://biosidmartin.com/how-many-sheets-of-paper-does-one-tree-produce/#What_kind_of_trees_are_used_to_make_paper>

4Ford, J. (2019, September 18). How much wood goes into a piece of paper? Answers To All. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from <https://answer-to-all.com/technology/how-much-wood-goes-into-a-piece-of-paper/#Is_paper_made_out_of_wood_or_leaves>

5Taras, M. (1956, November). Buying Pulp Wood by Weight as Compared With Volume Measure. USDA. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from <https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/osp/osp_se074.pdf>

6Slusher, J. (1993). How to Measure Trees and Logs. MU Extension. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from <https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g5050>

7Li, J. (1999, April). How Much Should the Yield of Softwood Chemical Pulp (Kraft Pulp) Be Improved? Georgia Tech Library. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from <https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/891/F030-1--1999-04.pdf>

8Michigan State University Extension. (2022). Raw Wood Products. Michigan Forests Forever. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from <https://mff.forest.mtu.edu/Products/rawwood.htm>