Paper recycling is the environmentally friendly process of recycling paper that has already been consumed in order to make fresh, usable paper. Each day, tons of paper are consumed nationwide, and after being used for documents, writing and printing, it’s usually thrown away as scrap.
Unless it is recycled, paper becomes part of garbage dumps and landfills, contributing to problems like greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. Paper recycling can alleviate many of these problems by turning this scrap paper into new paper.
How Is Paper Made?
In order to better understand the process of paper recycling, it is essential to know how paper is made in the first place. Let’s take a look at some facts about paper making:
- Fresh or virgin paper is made from pulp.
- This pulp is most commonly made from wood although other materials such as cotton, bamboo and sugarcane waste can also be used.
- The pulp, a mixture of water and fibers, is then pumped into screen mats.
- These rolling mats vibrate steadily to dry the moisture and create paper.
Grades of Paper
A very important aspect of paper recycling is the grade of the paper. Paper is recycled over and over up to 7 times. And as it is recycled, the paper fibers become shorter until they are of no use. And the length of the fiber is what determines the grade of the paper. There are typically 5 grades; let’s understand each.
Old Corrugated Containers – Also known as corrugated cardboards, their use can be seen in product packaging.
Mixed Paper – Mixed paper is a broad category that covers paper used for phonebooks, mails, magazines, books, etc.
Old Newspapers – This category consists of newsprint, tissue papers, and other similar products. It is a lower grade paper created in mills using newspapers.
High-Grade Deinked Paper – This category covers copy paper, envelops, letterheads, etc. that go through the process where ink is removed from them.
Pulp substitutes – It is the scrap that mills discard and is usually of no use. However, you may find it in some products you use.
How Paper Gets Recycled
Wood is the best source of pulp for making paper, but used paper is also a rich source of pulp. Writing and printing on paper does not remove the fiber content, and fiber eventually becomes paper.
Here’s How The Process Of Recycling Paper Works:
- Recycling kicks off by collecting paper from multiple sources such as offices, homes and universities.
- After the paper is collected, it is then graded to sort similarly graded paper together. Grading is essential because it determines the amount of fiber that can be extracted from the pulp.
- The sorted paper is then turned into pulp using water, hydrogen peroxide and caustic soda with soap. The pulp thus formed is screened for non-paper debris such as staples and plastic.
- The pulp is now all fiber and will be repeatedly de-inked until it becomes white.
- The whitened pulp is fed into rollers, which removes most of the water after which it is moved onto a dryer.
- Lastly, the almost dry pulp is pushed through an ironing-board-type machine which rolls it into the desired paper grade.
It is essential to note here that paper recycling is not comparable to other types of recycling, such as aluminum recycling. With metals, the metallic properties are retained after repeated recycling, but recycling paper leads to reduction in the length of fibers. Eventually, recycled paper will reach a point where it can no longer be recycled.
One of the best option to recycle paper is to use paper shredder, it is just a mechanical device which cut paper into chad,strips or fine particles. You could also invest in a document shredders that cuts up materials, which makes it ideal for manufacturing industries, large offices, small businesses. document shredders make life easy and risk management a breeze.
Different Forms of Recyclable Paper
Not all types of paper can be recycled, but most can. These include:
- Old Corrugated Containers/Cardboard– Commonly consists of layers of paper joined together with a ruffled or grooved inner liner
- Double Line Kraft– Double line cuttings from corrugated boxes
- Old Newsprint– Old newspapers that have been read or were printed with extra issues
- White Ledger – Non-glossy and printed/non-printed white letterhead, typing/writing and copy machine paper
- Colored Ledger– Non-glossy and printed/non-printed colored paper
- Coated Book Stock– Coated free sheet paper
- Computer Print-Out– Color barred or blank computer paper (commercial forms or primers’ inks may not be accepted by recycling centers)
- Phone Books – New/used telephone books
- Magazines– Use dor over issue magazine copies, which could be pre-sorted or baled
- Sorted Office Waste– Various kinds of papers collected from offices and organizations, like notepads, booklets, fliers, white/pastel copy and writing paper, white/multi-stripe computer paper, letterheads and envelopes etc.
- Mixed Paper– Variety of papers that have not been sorted may include office papers as well as newsprint, magazines, etc.
Advantages of Recycling Paper
Virgin paper will always be superior to recycled paper for many applications, but recycled paper has some incredible advantages too:
- Sustainability – Forests are getting depleted and the desire for environmental well-being has led to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which combines the continuous growing and harvesting of trees with long-term protection of wildlife, plants, soil, and water quality.
- Environmental Impact – The primary component of paper is wood pulp, which is obtained from trees. Recycling paper results in reduced usage of wood as the raw material, which means less forest depletion and a host of environmental benefits.
- Reduction of Emissions – Less energy is spent on recycling paper which ensures that fewer greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. Since decomposition causes methane emissions, recycling paper cuts these down too.
- Fiber Supply – Recycled paper ensures that the available supply of fresh fiber is extended. This leads to carbon sequestration, which means more carbon in the soil.
- Landfill Space – As more paper is recycled, less land is filled with waste paper. This saves the scarcest resource of all, i.e. land.
- Water Consumption – Virgin paper production consumes a lot more water than recycling paper, so a substantial amount of water is saved through waste paper recycling.
- Waste Disposal – Paper forms a huge component of everyday waste and tends to solidify, increasing the weight. Recycling paper means less waste to deal with.
Paper is one of the everyday products that will continue to find heavy usage, even in these digital times. By recycling paper, incredible environmental advantages await in exchange for a small sacrifice in paper quality!