Understanding Recycling Paper & Cardboard

 

10.18.2016

0800

paper_recycling_diagram

Paper Recycling Process Link

Paper is one of the more utilized materials that we use in our society. It’s an amazing material that is very versatile in many uses. Although recycling paper seems like a simple process, different types of paper, create different issues when it comes to the recycling process.

In 2011, 66.8 percent of paper consumed in the United States was recycled. Every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, and if you measure by weight, more paper is recovered for recycling than plastic, aluminum and glass combined. Paper is a material that we’re used to recycling, since 87 percent of us have access to curbside or drop-off recycling for paper.

The process of recycling paper can be summed up into a few simple steps:

  1. Paper is taken from the bin and deposited in a large recycling container along with paper from other recycling bins.
  2. The paper is taken to a recycling plant where it is separated into types and grades.
  3. The separated paper is then washed with soapy water to remove inks, plastic film, staples and glue. The paper is put into a large holder where it is mixed with water to create ‘slurry’.
  4. By adding different materials to the slurry, different paper products can be created, such as cardboard, newsprints or office paper.
  5. The slurry is spread using large rollers into large thin sheets.
  6. The paper is left to dry, and then it is rolled up ready to be cut and sent back to the shops.

Here Are Some Facts About Paper Grades:

  • Paper Grades – There are five basic paper grade categories, according to theEPA. While these terms may be most useful to paper mills looking to process certain kinds of paper, you may hear these terms once in a while, and it’s possible you’ll need to be able to distinguish between them.
    • Old Corrugated Containers – You might know this as “corrugated cardboard.” It’s most often found in boxes and product packaging.
    • Mixed Paper – This is a broad category of paper that includes things like mail, catalogs, phone books and magazines.
    • Old Newspapers – This one is pretty self-explanatory. Mills use newspapers, a lower grade paper, to make more newsprint, tissue and other products.
    • High Grade Deinked Paper – This quality paper consists of things like envelopes, copy paper and letterhead that has gone through the printing process and had the ink removed.
    • Pulp Substitutes – This paper is usually discarded scraps from mills, and you probably won’t have to worry about running into it, though it may find its way into products you buy.

Some Paper Recycling Curiosities:

  • Once you know what kind of paper recycling is available to you and which types of paper are recyclable, you might still have some questions about paper recycling. Here are a few common items that cause confusion:
    • Shredded Paper – Ever wondered whether shredded paper can be recycled? The answer is yes, though you may encounter some restrictions regarding the size of the shredded pieces and the way the paper is contained. Check with your local recycling program for specific information.
    • Staples & Paper Clips – Believe it or not, equipment at paper mills that recycle recovered paper is designed to remove things like staples and paper clips, so you don’t need to remove them before recycling. It is probably in your best interest to remove paper clips, though, so they can be reused.
    • Sticky Notes – If your local recycling program accepts mixed paper, it will most likely accept sticky notes. Paper mills that process mixed paper are able to remove adhesives. To be on the safe side, check with your local program to make sure sticky notes aren’t a problem.
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