You’d be more shocked than surprised if you heard someone didn’t know about paper. Well, that’s to show you the big role paper play in our everyday activities. From magazines to personal diaries, we can’t just seem to get enough them.
Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. And you’ll most likely dispose of these materials once you finish reading. Well, you don’t need to anymore. You can always recycle them and gain loads of benefits.
So, do you want to know about paper recycling? We’ve got this covered. We’ll tell you what paper recycling is all about. We’ll then show you how and what you stand to gain.
Ready? Dive in!
What is Paper Recycling?
Paper recycling pertains to the processes of reprocessing waste paper for reuse. Waste papers are either obtained from paper mill paper scraps, discarded paper materials, and waste paper material discarded after consumer use. Examples of the commonly known papers recycled are old newspapers and magazines.
Other forms like corrugated, wrapping, and packaging papers among other types of paper are usually checked for recycling suitability before the process. The papers are collected from the waste locations then sent to paper recycling facilities. The subtopics below provide a detailed explanation of the steps used in paper recycling.
According to NorCal compactors, paper recycling is reprocessing used paper. Well, the goal is to make new and usable paper.
Usually, these used papers come from scraps of paper that you use daily. So, all those magazines that you’ve finished reading. Or those diaries five years back that are no longer relevant, they are suitable scraps.
Typically, if you didn’t recycle, those papers would merely pile up. Worse, they’ll fill up the garbage around and can constitute a nuisance to you and your environment. For instance, it emits toxic gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, which reduces your quality of air.
The Paper recycling activity can start at school, college, home, office, local community and even at drop off centers. We all need to understand what products can be recycled before staring the recycling process and how to properly prepare them for recycling.
How Paper is Recycled: Step-by-Step Process
Now that you know more about paper recycling, you might just be asking how recycling occurs. Well, look no further. Here’s a guide of how companies recycle paper.
Step by step process of Paper Recycling
Step 1: Collection & Transportation
This is the first process in the paper recycling process.
This significant step involves the collection of recyclable papers. It entails gathering paper waste from various outlets like your home, offices, and business vicinity. Recyclers and paper merchants collect the paper materials from collection points such as trash bins, paper stores, paper scrap yards, and commercial outlets that generate paper waste.
This paper waste is collected by recyclers and put together into a large recycle bin. Paper is collected from the bin and deposited in the large recycling container along with the paper from the other recycling bins.
After collection, they are then measured, graded for quality, and hauled to recycling paper mill facilities. It then gets transported to a recycling plant where the waste paper is sorted and separated into types and grades.
Step 2: Sorting
At the recycling plant, the papers are sorted and separated. This process helps to identify the papers that would be recycled and those you need to discard. At this stage, you also remove all other external materials from the paper collection.
Once accepted at the recycling facility, the papers are further sorted based on quantity and paper value by assessing the materials that were used to make the paper. In most cases, the papers are classified according to their surface treatment and structure.
For instance, the very thin lightweight paper materials like newspapers are put separately from the thick paper materials like the ones used as paper folders. Sorting is important since paper mills produce different grades of paper materials based on the materials being recovered.
Step 3: Shredding and Pulping
Once sorting is finished, the next step involves shredding followed by pulping. Shredding is done to break down the paper materials into small bits. After the material is finely shredded to bits, it is mixed with water and chemicals to breakdown the paper fiber materials.
It turns the paper materials into a slurry substance, a process termed as pulping. This is the point where it undergoes a heating process that turns it into pulp. Usually, equipment called puller is what recycling companies use for the process of pulping. And this gets done by adding water and chemicals such as caustic soda and hydrogen peroxide.
Step 4: Screening
At this point, you screen the pulpy mass. The pulp gets pushed into screens with space and holes of different shapes and sizes. The end of this process is for you to remove contamination from the pulp. You also filter out unwanted objects.
Step 5: De-Inking
This stage doesn’t happen at all times. It depends on the paper and occurs where the paper has some ink on it. Here, you ensure you remove all the printing ink, adhesives, and glue within the paper.
Once the pulp is produced it is then passed through a series of screens to remove larger pieces of contaminants for e.g.: inks, staples, plastic film and glue. The pulp material is then mixed up with new pulp to help the slurry substance solidify and form a firmer end product. The clean paper pulp is then placed in the machine that uses centrifugal cleaning to spin more of the debris from the paper pulp.
The slurry substance is then taken through a comprehensive filtering process to get rid of all the non-fibrous foreign materials present or any impurities such as strings, tape or glue. Light materials such as plastics float on top while the heavy materials like metals fall to the bottom for elimination.
Typically, the company achieves this through two steps. The first involves mechanical actions like washing and rinsing the pulp with water. It then consists in making use of chemical additives to remove ink prints. However, this might only work for little ink prints.
Usually, for more massive inks, a process called flotation becomes useful. Here, you make use of air bubbles to remove ink particles. The ink and other particles become glued to the air bubbles. Then they float to the top from where you can remove them.
Step 6: Bleaching
This stage is relevant when you intend to produce a white paper. At this stage, you make use of hydrogen peroxide to increase the to enhance brightness, purity and whiteness. Alternatively, you can make use of oxygen or chlorine dioxide. However, if you are recycling into cardboard, you need not subject the pulp to the bleaching process.
Alternatively, you might be producing from a paper with coloring. Then, you might want to add color stripping materials to the fibers to remove the dyes from the paper.
This entire step is also called the bleaching process as it cleans the pulp over and over to ensure it is ready for the final processing stage.
Step 7: Rolling
This is the final stage of the entire process of recycling paper. Here, you prepare the clean pulp to begin processing into a new paper.
However, it would be best if you exercise extreme caution here. This is because you will need to mix the paper pulp with chemicals and hot water. However, the hot water you add must be of way greater quantity that both the pulp and the chemical substances
This mixture is then gradually put into a machine with press rollers in it. This ensures that all forms of moisture get removed from the pulp. Then, to completely dry out the pulp sheet, you make use of a heated metal roller.
The cleaned pulp is blended with new production materials after which, it is put to dry on a flat conveyor belt and heated cylindrical surfaces.
As the pulp dries, it is passed through an automated machine that presses out excess water. By the time the pulp is solid, it is passed through steam-heated cylinders that facilitate the formation of flattened long rolls of continuous sheets of paper.
Finally, as the water drains out completely, it then results in a renewed paper sheet. You can then cut this paper sheet into the desired shapes and sizes.
The resultant paper sheets are then trimmed, rolled, and sent to various business outlets or manufacturers that use paper to make their products. Newspaper printing, wrapping papers, printing papers, and blown-in cellulose insulators are a few examples of areas where recycled papers are used.
Incredible Benefits of Paper Recycling
Now that you know about paper recycling, you might be wondering what you stand to gain. Well, the fact is that various benefits come with paper recycling.
Yes, the process appears stressful. But once done, you get to derive some benefits. And even more, benefit the world.
Still, wondering what these are? Here are eight benefits of paper recycling.
1. It Saves Energy
The process of paper production from scratch consumes loads of energy. However, this isn’t the case when it comes to recycling paper. In fact, recycling paper allows you to save about 70% energy.
So, if you’re still wondering why you should recycle, it’s simple—less energy consumption.
2. It Reduces Pollution
If anything, you should know paper recycling is excellent because it is an environmentally-friendly option. When you decide to recycle paper, you avoid dumping papers.
Usually, when you dump paper, they end up as landfills. In turn, these landfills pollute the air with the production of various toxic gas. So, it’s simple. By deciding to recycle, you save the world from landfill pollution.
3. It Reduces Green House Emissions
Even more, you reduce greenhouse emissions, another form of pollution when you recycle. This is because a considerable amount of energy goes into paper production. And this process is prone to increasing greenhouse emissions.
On the other hand, recycling takes less energy. In turn, this ensures there are less methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
More, in case you think this doesn’t benefit you, know it allows you to breathe better.
4. It Preserves Trees & Lessens Deforestation
Cutting of trees to make paper we agree is inevitable. Each year hundreds of thousands of new trees get taken to the slaughter to produce paper.
Well, recycling can significantly reduce this. It allows companies to use trees that were previously cut down continually. Through this, they’ll have fewer reasons to visit the forest and get those saws to work again.
Well, for you, you can sleep better, knowing the ecosystem is better off. And of course, you’re protected from the effects of an impoverished ecosystem.
5. It Saves Cost
The entire process of cutting trees is mostly tedious for paper manufacturers. There’s the high cost of machinery involved. There’s even the cost of labor involved. Well, with recycling, they can avoid this and save costs.
Also, as you already know, recycling consumes less energy. And since power requires cost, less energy means less cost.
Again, in case you ask, how do I benefit as a consumer. This allows you to get paper at a cheaper rate. Great, right?
6. It Creates Job and Improves the Economy
Through paper recycling, more jobs get created for people. Through job creation, the economy experiences vast improvement as the manufacturing sector takes flight. In turn, growth occurs in various other industries.
7. It’s a Source of Income for You
Yes, you heard me right. As an end-user, you get to make money through paper recycling.
This occurs by collecting used paper around your house or vicinity. You can then drop them off at a nearby recycling company for some cash. If you’re a vast reader, you can even make money from yours alone.
So, it’s more of buying a book, reading it, and getting paid to return it. Great right?
8. It Improves the Standard of Living
With recycled paper in use, you don’t have to worry about the smell of landfills or water pollution. This is because paper recycling helps reduce the emission of gas by about 74%. It also avoids water-polluting emissions by about 35%. In turn, you live healthier.
Even more, as it provides a job and represents a source of income, you gain at both ends. Great right?
Before coming across this article, you probably thought nothing was exciting about paper recycling. Let alone know that it comes with so many benefits. Well, look at you now.
You can see that the idea of paper recycling doesn’t sound ridiculous at all. In fact, it comes with loads of cool benefits.
So, the next time you want to dispose of old newspapers and books in your house. Think hard about the numerous environmental gains you are discarding. Then do the right thing and recycle them.
If you have a keen interest in knowing how the paper is recycled, you can make a visit to your nearby recycling plant and see how the waste paper undergoes the recycling process. Most companies share processes and information with people to make them understand better how the recycling process takes place and encourage them to participate in this process.