How Paper Is Recycled From Scrap - How To
How is Paper Recycled?
Step 1: After you put paper in your recycling bin, it’s taken to a recycling center where contaminants such as plastic, glass or trash are removed.
Step 2: Next, the paper is sorted into different grades.
Step 3: Once the paper is sorted, it will be stored in bales until a mill needs it, and then it will be transferred to the mill for processing.
Step 4: Once at the mill large machines (pulpers) shred the paper into small pieces. This mixture of paper, water, and chemicals is heated and the pieces of paper break down into fibers.
Step 5: The mixture is pressed through a screen to remove adhesives and other remaining contaminants.
Step 6: Next, the paper will be spun in a cone-shaped cylinder to clean it, and sometimes ink will also be removed. At this point, the pulp is sent through a machine that sprays it onto a conveyor belt. Water will drip through the belt’s screen, and the paper fibers will start bonding together.
Step 7: Heated metal rollers will dry the paper, and the paper will be put onto large rolls, which can be made into new paper products.
Grades of Paper
The newspaper is a lower grade paper because it has already been recycled numerous times, while printer paper is higher grade paper. The grade of paper is determined by fiber length, which shortens after each trip through the recycling process.
After being recycled five to seven times, the fibers become too short to make new paper and will need to be mixed with virgin fibers, according to the EPA. Ever heard that paper has “seven generations”? That phrase refers to how many times paper can be recycled before its fibers become too short.
How to Recycle Paper Properly
Now that you understand how paper gets made into new paper, you need to know how you as a consumer can recycle properly. For example, you might occasionally find yourself with a type of paper you’re unsure what to do with. In those situations, understanding some basic paper terms – for different kinds of paper and different kinds of recycling – can help you put the right materials in the right bin.
Paper Grades – There are five basic paper grade categories, according to the EPA. 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.
Collection – As a consumer, you will need to know whether the paper can go in your curbside recycling bin, and if so, whether it needs to be separated.
Single-Stream – This type of collection allows you to put all recyclables like glass, plastic, and paper in one container. The single-stream collection makes the process easy for those who wish to recycle and it requires fewer trucks for collection.
Sorted-Stream – This type of collection requires residents to separate certain kinds of recyclables. You may be asked to put all mixed paper in one container or to separate paper waste more specifically. If you have sorted-stream recycling, check local regulations before throwing paper in the recycling bin.