Paper recycling

Paper recycling

Paper recycling is the process of recovering waste paper and remaking it into new paper products. There are three categories of paper that can be used as feedstocks for making recycled paper: mill broke, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste.cite web
title=Debunking the Myths of Recycled Paper
publisher=Recycling Point Dot Com
accessdate = 2007-02-04
] Mill broke is paper trimmings and other paper scrap from the manufacture of paper, and is recycled internally in a paper mill. Pre-consumer waste is material that was discarded before it was ready for consumer use. Post-consumer waste is material discarded after consumer use, including OM (old magazines), OTD (old telephone directories), and RMP (residential mixed paper). [cite web |url=
title=Recycling glossary
publisher=American Forest and Paper Association
] Paper suitable for recycling is called "scrap paper".


While there are differences depending on the specific type of paper being recycled (corrugated fiberboard, newspaper, mixed office waste), recycling processes include the following steps:

# Pulping: Adding water and applying mechanical action to separate fibers from each other.
# Screening: Using screens, with either slots or holes, to remove contaminants that are larger than pulp fibers.
# Centrifugal cleaning: Spinning the pulp slurry in a cleaner causes materials that are more dense than pulp fibers to move outward and be rejected.
# Flotation: Passing air bubbles through the pulp slurry, with a surfactant present, causes ink particles to collect with the foam on the surface. By removing contaminated foam, pulp is made brighter. This step is sometimes called deinking.
# Kneading or dispersion: Mechanical action is applied to fragment contaminant particles.
# Washing: Small particles are removed by passing water through the pulp.
# Bleaching: If white paper is desired, bleaching uses peroxides or hydrosulfites to remove color from the pulp.
# Papermaking: The clean (and/or bleached) fiber is made into a new paper product in the same way that virgin paper is made.
# Dissolved air flotation: Process water is cleaned for reuse.
# Waste disposal: The unusable material left over, mainly ink, plastics, filler and short fibers, is called sludge. The sludge is buried in a landfill, burned to create energy at the paper mill or used as a fertilizer by local farmers.

Rationale for recycling

Industrialized paper making has an effect on the environment both upstream (where raw materials are acquired and processed) and downstream (waste-disposal impacts). [Hershkowitz, A. (2002). "Bronx ecology." Washington DC: Island Press. p. 62.] Recycling paper reduces this impact.

Today, 90% of paper pulp is made of wood. Paper production accounts for about 35% of felled trees,cite web |url=|title=Paper Chase |accessdate=2007-09-21 |last=Martin |first=Sam |coauthors= |year=2004 |work= |publisher=Ecology Communications, Inc.] and represents 1.2% of the world's total economic output. [cite web |url= |title=Trends and Current Status of the Contribution of the Forestry Sector to National Economies |accessdate=2007-09-21 |last= |first= |coauthors= |year=2004 |work= |publisher=Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)] Recycling of newsprint saves about 1 tonne of wood while recycling 1 tonne (1.1 ton) of printing or copier paper saves slightly more than 2 tonnes of wood. This is because kraft pulping requires twice as much wood since it removes lignin to produce higher quality fibers than mechanical pulping processes. Relating tonnes of paper recycled to the number of trees not cut is meaningless, since tree size varies tremendously and is the major factor in how much paper can be made from how many trees. [cite web |url= |title=How Many Recycled Newspapers Does It Take to Save A Tree? |accessdate=2007-09-22 |last=Marcot |first=Bruce G. |coauthors= |year=1992 |work= |publisher=The Ecology Plexus] Trees raised specifically for pulp production account for 16% of world pulp production, old growth forests 9% and second- and third- and more generation forests account for the balance. Most pulp mill operators practice reforestation to ensure a continuing supply of treesFact|date=June 2008. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies paper made from trees harvested according to guidelines meant to ensure good forestry practices. [cite web| url=|title=CertificationTracking products from the forest to the shelf!|accessdate=2007-09-21] It has been estimated that recycling half the world’s paper would avoid the harvesting of 20 million acres (80,000 km²) of forestland. [ [Source: EarthWorks Group. 1990. “The Recycler’s Handbook”. Berkeley, CA: The EarthWorks Press] ]


Energy consumption is reduced by recycling, although there is debate concerning the actual energy savings realized. The EIA claims a 40% reduction in energy when paper is recycled versus paper made with unrecycled pulp. [cite web
url= Recycling Paper & Glass
title=SavingEnergy Recycling Paper & Glass
publisher=Energy Information Administration
month=September | year=2006
] while the Bureau of International Recycling, BIR, claims a 64% reduction.cite web
title=Information about Recycling
publisher=Bureau of International Recycling
] Some calculations show that recycling one ton of newspaper saves about 4,000 KWh of electricity, although this may be too high (see comments below on unrecycled pulp). This is enough electricity to power a 3-bedroom European house for an entire year, or enough energy to heat and air-condition the average North American home for almost six months. [cite web
title=Recycle - Save Energy
publisher=South Carolina Electric & Gas Company.
] Recycling paper to make pulp may actually consume more fossil fuels than making new pulp via the kraft process, however, since these mills generate all of their energy from burning waste wood (bark, roots) and byproduct lignin. [cite web
title=Kraft pulping: Energy consumption and production
date=March 27, 1997
publisher=University of Wisconsin Biotech Center
] Pulp mills producing new mechanical pulp use large amounts of energy; a very rough estimate of the electrical energy needed is 10,000 megajoules (MJ) per tonne of pulp (2500 kW·h per short ton),cite book
first=Christopher J.
title=Essentials of Pulping and Papermaking
publisher=Academic Press, Inc.
location=San Diego
] usually from hydroelectric generating plants. Recycling mills purchase most of their energy from local power companies, and since recycling mills tend to be in urban areas, it is likely that the electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels.

Landfill use

About 35% of municipal solid waste (before recycling) by weight is paper and paper products.cite web |url= |title=Executive Summary: Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2005 Facts and Figures |accessdate=2007-10-23 |last= |first= |coauthors= |year=2005 |work= |publisher=US Environmental Protection Agency|format=PDF] Recycling 1 tonne of newspaper eliminates 3 cubic meters of landfill. [cite book |last=Sudbury |first=Jodi B. |authorlink= |coauthors= |title="50 Simple things you Can do to Save the Earth |year=1989 |publisher=Earthworks Press |location=Berkeley CA |isbn=0929634063 ] Incineration of waste paper is usually preferable to landfilling since useful energy is generated. Organic materials, including paper, decompose in landfills, albeit sometimes slowly, releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Many larger landfills now collect this methane for use as a biogas fuel. In highly urbanized areas, such as the northeastern US and most of Europe, land suitable for landfills is scarce and must be used carefully. Fortunately, it is in such areas that collection of waste paper is also most efficient.

Water and air pollution

The US EPA has found that recycling causes 35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution. [cite web|url=|title=Recycle on the Go: Basic Information|publisher US Environmental Protection Agency|date= October 18, 2007|accessdate=2007-10-30]
Pulp mills can be sources of both air and water pollution, especially if they are producing bleached pulp. Modern mills produce considerably less pollution than those of a few decades ago. Recycling paper decreases the demand for virgin pulp and thus reduces the overall amount of air and water pollution associated with paper manufacture. Recycled pulp can be bleached with the same chemicals used to bleach virgin pulp, but hydrogen peroxide and sodium hydrosulfite are the most common bleaching agents. Recycled pulp, or paper made from it, is known as PCF (process chlorine free) if no chlorine-containing compounds were used in the recycling process. [cite web |url= |title=Facts About Paper |accessdate=2007-10-30 |last=MacFadden |first=Todd |coauthors=Michael P. Vogel |month=June | year=1996 |work= |publisher=Printers' NationalEnvironmental Assistance Center, Montana State University] However it should be noted that recycling mills may have polluting by-products, such as sludge. De-inking at Cross Pointe's Miami, Ohio mill results in sludge weighing 22% of the weight of wastepaper recycled. [cite web|url=|title=Recycling Paper and Glass|month=September | year=2006|publisher=US Department of Energy|accessdate=2007-10-30]

Cleaning contaminants from scrap paper

Scrap from paper mills (broke) is the cleanest source for recycling. The high rates of recycling for post-consumer office paper, newspaper, paperboard, and corrugated fiberboard reflect the efficiency of recycling mills to clean and process the incoming materials. Several technologies are available to sort, screen, filter, and chemically treat the recycled paper.

Many extraneous materials are readily removed. Twine, strapping, etc are removed from the hydropulper by a "ragger". Metal straps and staples can be screened out or removed by a magnet. Film-backed pressure sensitive tape stays intact: the PSA adhesive and the backing are both removed together. [cite web
title=Packaging Tapes: To Recycle of Not
accessdate = 2007-11-06
publisher=Adhesives and Sealants Council

Materials which are more difficult to remove include wax coatings on corrugated cartons and "stickies", soft rubbery particles which can clog the paper maker and contaminate the recycled paper. Stickies can originate from book bindings, hot melt adhesives, PSA adhesives from paper labels, laminating adhesives of reinforced gummed tapes, etc. [cite web
title=Recycling Compatible Adhesives Standards
accessdate = 2007-11-06
publisher=Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute
] [cite web
title=Voluntary Standard for Repulping and Recycling Corugated Fiberboard
accessdate = 2007-11-06
publisher=Corrugated Packaging Alliance
] [cite web
title=Environmentally benign USPS stamps
accessdate = 2007-11-08
publisher=TAPPI Pulping Conference

In 2008, scientists developed a method to remove one of the most difficult contaminants, ink, with an enzymatic catalyst approach rather than expensive and polluting chemicals. [ScienceDaily. (2008). [ Environmental Friendly Technology Can Remove Ink Stains In Paper Recycling] .]


Some of the claimed benefits of paper recycling have fallen under criticism; criticized areas include the claim that recycling saves trees, reduces energy consumption, reduces pollution, creates desirable jobs, and saves money.

Recycling facts and figures

In the mid-19th century, there was an increased demand for books and writing material. Up to this time, paper manufacturers had used discarded linen rags for paper, but supply could not keep up with the increased demand. Books were bought at auctions for the purpose of recycling fiber content into new paper, at least in the United Kingdom, by the beginning of the 19th century. [cite book
title=Cheap Bibles: Nineteenth Century Publishing and the British and Foreign Bible Society
publisher=Cambridge University Press
isbn=10: 0521522129

Internationally, about half of all recovered paper comes from converting losses (pre-consumer recycling), such as shavings and unsold periodicals; approximately one third comes from household or post-consumer waste.cite web
title=Recovered Paper
work=Bureau of International Recycling
accessdate = 2007-05-20

Some statistics on paper consumption:

* The average per capita paper use in the USA in 2001 was lb to kg|700. The average per capita paper use worldwide was lb to kg|110. [cite web|url=|title=Paper consumption data|accessdate=2007-11-12]

* It is estimated that 95% of business information is still stored on paper. " [Source: International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Discussion Paper (IIED, London, September 1996)] "

* Although paper is traditionally identified with reading and writing, communications has now been replaced by packaging as the single largest category of paper use at 41% of all paper used. " [Source: North American Factbook PPI, 1995. (Figures are for 1993)] "

* 115 billion sheets of paper are used annually for personal computers [Source: Worldwatch Institute] . The average daily web user prints 28 pages daily " [Source: Gartner group and HP] "

* Most corrugated fiberboard boxes have over 25% recycled fibers. Some are 100% recycled fiber.

United States of America

Recycling has long been practiced in the United States. The history of paper recycling has several dates of importance:

1690: The first paper mill to use recycled linen was established by the Rittenhouse family. [ cite web |url= |title=Papermaking Moves to the United States |accessdate=2007-10-20 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=Robert C. Williams Paper Museum, Georgia Institute of Technology]

1896: The first major recycling center was started by the Benedetto family in New York City, where they collected rags, newspaper, and trash with a pushcart.

1993: The first year when more paper was recycled than was buried in landfills. [ cite web |url= |title=Recycling in the Paper Industry|accessdate=2007-10-20 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=Robert C. Williams Paper Museum, Georgia Institute of Technology]

Today, over half of the material used to make paper is recovered waste. [cite web
title=Paper University - All About Paper
accessdate = 2007-05-20
] Paper products are the largest component of municipal solid waste, making up more than 40% of the composition of landfills. [cite web
title=Municipal Solid Waste - FAQ
work=U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
accessdate = 2007-04-28
] Baird, Colin (2004) "Environmental Chemistry" (3rd ed.) p. 512. W. H. Freeman ISBN 0-7167-4877-0; [ "Recycling in Ohio"] ] In 2006, a record 53.4% of the paper used in the U.S. (or 53.5 million tons) was recovered for recycling. [ cite web
title=2006 Recovered Paper Annual Statistics
publisher= [ Paper Industry Association Council]
] This is up from a 1990 recovery rate of 33.5%. [cite web
title=2006 Recovered Paper Annual Statistics
publisher= [ Paper Industry Association Council]
] The U.S. paper industry has set a goal to recover 55 percent of all the paper used in the U.S. by 2012. Paper packaging recovery, specific to paper products used by the packaging industry, was responsible for about 76.6% of packaging materials recycled with more than 24 million pounds recovered in 2005. [ Data on Paper Recovery] ]

Twenty years ago, only one curbside recycling program existed in the United States, which collected several materials at the curb. By 1998, 9,000 curbside programs and 12,000 recyclable drop-off centers had sprouted up across the nation. As of 1999, 480 materials recovery facilities had been established to process the collected materials. [cite web
title=Municipal Solid Waste - Recycling
work=U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
accessdate = 2006-04-02

European Union

Paper recovery in Europe has a long history and has grown into a mature organization. The European papermakers and converters work together to meet the requirements of the European Commission and national governments. Their aim is the reduction of the environmental impact of waste during manufacturing, converting/printing, collecting, sorting and recycling processes to ensure the optimal and environmentally sound recycling of used paper and board products. In 2004, the paper recycling rate in Europe was 54.6% or 45.5 million tons. [cite web | title=ERPC Facts and Figures | work=European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC) | url= | accessdate = 2006-09-27]


Municipal collections of paper for recycling are in place. However, according to the "Yomiuri Shimbun", in 2008, eight paper manufacturers in Japan have admitted to intentionally mislabeling recycled paper products, exaggerating the amount of recycled paper used.Fact|date=January 2008

See also

*De-inked pulp
*Banana paper
*Molded pulp


External links

* [ Recycle Services Directory & more]
* [ Joearth - Information for responsible paper purchasing]
* [ How to Make Recycled Paper VIDEO] - A fun kids project for making recycled paper (video version).
* [ How to Make Recycled Paper TEXT] - A fun kids project for making recycled paper (text version).
* [ Paper recycling]
* [ Conservatree - Information on environmental and recycled paper]
* [ Information on recycling and paper drives for fundraising]
* [ Recycled Paper made from Banana's]
* [ Paper Industry Association Council:]
* [ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Paper and Paperboard Products]
* [ Process of banana paper recycling and terminology]
* [ Video on making recycled paper in Wisconsin paper mill]
* [ HP printers are suited for the use of recycled paper qualified according to EN 12281:2002]

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