Paper is used every day in a thousand different ways. From newspapers, books and magazines to paper plates, scrap paper and toilet paper – paper is everywhere. America alones used a staggering 68 million tons of paper per year. With so much paper used every day it is no wonder that countries around the world are working hard to recycle paper to be used again. So how is paper recycled? Read on to find out.
The Recycling Of Paper
There are three types of paper that are recycled these are; mill broke, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste. Mill broke is any scraps of paper and pulp left over from the paper making process. This is recycled within the paper mill. Pre-consumer waste is paper that was sent out from the paper mill, but was discarded before being sold or used by consumers. Post-consumer waste is the paper that is used by consumers such as magazines, newspapers, books, telephone directories and residential paper waste.
Paper recycling starts with the collection of scrap paper. The scrap paper is taken from recycling bins and bays to a recycling facility where it is sorted and graded for recycling. The sorted and graded paper is sent to a paper mill where it is placed in large warehouses until it is needed. Different grades of paper products are stored separately from one another so all the newspaper and boxes are stored together and the magazines are stored separately.
Once the paper mill requires more paper the graded paper is placed inside large vats full of water. The vat called the pulper churns and heats the paper and cut it into small pieces to make paper pulp. The paper pulp is then passed through a number of different grade screens to remove any glue, plastic or other contaminants. Next the pulp is poured into large cones and spun to remove any heavy particles such as staples or paperclips.
Most recycled paper has been printed or written on so the next step is for the paper pulp to be deinked. Often two processes are used washing and floatation. Washing is simply washing the ink from the small particles of paper. Floatation uses air bubbles and surfactants to break away large areas of ink and sticky residue. The ink sticks to the air bubbles and creates inky foam which can be removed from the clean pulp.
Finally the paper pulp is moved to the last stage of the process, refining, and the pulp is beaten to separate it into individual fibers. Chemicals are added to remove any color from the paper and the paper pulp is bleached using hydrogen peroxide. After this the paper pulp is used to create new paper. It is often mixed with new wood fibers to create stronger and smoother paper.