Paper Recycling: The Process and Environmental Benefits

Paper recycling is a very tedious process. It is by far more intricate than manufacturing with virgin materials. Waste paper needs to undergo a cleaning process to remove inks, staple wires, glue and several others before it can be put to good use. How to recycle paper follows six definite processes:

  1. Used paper taken out from collection centers are packed into bins and shipped to the recycling facility.
  2. Once inside the facility, used paper is then sorted and separated into types and grades.
  3. The separated paper is deposited into a large vat and mixed with soapy water to remove ink, staple wire, paper clips, hair pins, glue and others. The process turns waste paper into slurry.
  4. In the slurry stage, additional virgin materials are added to produce the type of paper (cardboard and newsprints) to be manufactured.
  5. The final slurry enters the large rollers where it is pressed and transformed into large thin sheets.
  6. Paper is then placed into giant dryers, rolled up and prepared to be cut to size for shipment back to the shops.

What to do with used paper, aluminum cans, glass, printer cartridges and electronics? We’ve got cool recycling ideas just for you.

Environmental Benefits

The entire process on how to recycle paper consumes a lot of water, energy and substances in the used paper deinking process. However, these pale in comparison to the adverse impact of manufacturing paper using virgin materials to the environment. Only 36% of recovered material from waste paper goes into the manufacture of recycled paper, 64% is still virgin material. The reason can be attributed to the need to maintain the lateral strength of paper so it can be suited for printing. Increasing its recycled content weakens paper literally and makes it curl during printing.

Paper recycling is really encouraged to reduce the adverse impact of manufacturing paper to the environment. In the US, all efforts are now geared towards improving waste management and recycling efforts for paper products. In the Netherlands, 77% of used paper is recycled compared to only 45% in the US. Around 68 million trees are felled in the US annually to meet the various paper requirements of the country (American Forest and Paper Association). Implementing paper recycling initiatives would be a likely solution to this end.

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