Paper Recycling

Paper recycling can be defined as the environmentally friendly process of recovering and processing scrap and waste paper to create new paper products. Rigorous scientific research has demonstrated that manufacturing paper with recycled content has significant environmental and economic benefits.


Based upon wood, a natural renewable resource, paper is both biodegradable and recyclable. Recycling recovered form creates these significant environmental and economic benefits:

The waste paper recycling process includes several process steps, including collection, transportation, sorting, processing into usable raw materials, and finally using that raw material to produce new paper products:

  • Collection – Waste paper is taken from the bin and deposited in a large recycling container and paper from other recycling bins.
  • Transportation – The recovered paper waste is taken to the paper recycling plant, separated into types and grades.
  • Sorting – After getting transported into recycling plants, the paper is sorted into different grades. Grading is crucial because it determines the amount of fiber extracted from the pulp.
  • Processing the waste paper into usable raw material
  • There are multiple functions in the processing phase, which include the following:
  • Pulping – The sorted paper is then turned into pulp using water, hydrogen peroxide, and caustic soda with soap.
  • Pulp Screening and Cleaning – To remove contamination from the pulp, the pulp is screened for non-paper debris such as glue, staples, and plastic.
  • De-inking – The pulp is now all fiber and will be repeatedly de-inked. This process removes printing ink and glue residues and adhesives.
  • Refining – The mechanical treatment process of paper pulp fibers to give the appropriate characteristics for papermaking.
  • Rolling – Lastly, the almost dry pulp is pushed through an ironing-board-type machine that moves it into the desired paper grade. It is then dried using heated metal rollers and wound into a giant roll.

It is crucial to note that recycling paper is not comparable to other types of recycling, such as metal recycling. With metals, the metallic properties are retained after repeated recycling, but recycling paper reduces the length of fibers. The recyclable paper will ultimately reach a point where it can no longer be recycled.

First of all, always check with your waste management facility, and remember the zero-waste lifestyle is about recycling less, not more. Crucial for recycling paper is no contamination in the recycling bin, and this means that bottles and cans need to be empty of liquids.

There are several places where you can recycle paper, including:

  1. Curbside recycling: Many cities and towns offer curbside recycling programs that allow you to place your paper in a designated recycling bin for pickup. Check with your local government to see if this service is available in your area.
  2. Drop-off centers: Many communities have designated recycling drop-off centers where you can bring your paper for recycling. These centers may be operated by the local government, private companies, or non-profit organizations.
  3. Retail locations: Some retailers, such as office supply stores and shipping centers, may have paper recycling bins where customers can drop off their paper for recycling.

Paper recycling centers are facilities that are designed to collect, process, and recycle waste paper.

These facilities are usually equipped with large machines and equipment such as conveyor belts, grinders, pulpers, centrifuges, and screens, to handle the large amount of waste paper they receive. The recycling centers are also equipped with pollution control systems to minimize the environmental impact of the recycling process.

Paper recycling machine

A paper recycling machine comes in multiple forms: a small type that recycles 20 – 100 kg of paper per hour. The medium-sized machine recycles 75 – 250 kg of paper, while the large machine recycles 100 – 500 kg of paper waste. Depending on the budget and requirements, a suitable machine can be purchased

The paper recycling industry is relatively competitive. Leading paper recycling companies include:

  • Hanna Paper Recycling
  • DS Smith
  • Smurfit Kappa Group
  • Georgia-Pacific
  • Waste Management
  • Republic Services
  • Sonoco Recycling
  • Veolia Environment
  • Heinzel Group

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