How Paper is Recycled

The process of recycling paper needs to be carried out step by step, and the final product can be obtained through layer by layer processing. The advantage of using recycled paper is to directly affect the environment, such as reducing forest damage.

Step 1: Collection & Transportation

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 break down 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: 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.

Step 5: 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 brightness, purity and whiteness. Alternatively, you can make use of oxygen or chlorine dioxide.  However, if you are recycling 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.