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.Mill broke is paper trimmings and other paper scrap from the manufacture of paper, and is recycled in a paper mill. Pre-consumer waste is a material which left the paper mill but was discarded before it was ready for consumer use. Post-consumer waste is material discarded after consumer use, such as old corrugated containers (OCC), old magazines, and newspapers. Paper suitable for recycling is called "scrap paper", often used to produce moulded pulp packaging. The industrial process of removing printing ink from paper fibres of recycled paper to make deinked pulp is called deinking, an invention of the German jurist Justus Claproth.
The process of waste paper recycling most often involves mixing used/old paper with water and chemicals to break it down. It is then chopped up and heated, which breaks it down further into strands of cellulose, a type of organic plant material; this resulting mixture is called pulp, or slurry. It is strained through screens, which remove any glue or plastic (especially from plastic-coated paper) that may still be in the mixture then cleaned, de-inked, bleached, and mixed with water. Then it can be made into new recycled paper.
The share of ink in a wastepaper stock is up to about 2% of the total weight.
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).
Today, 40% of paper pulp is created from wood (in most modern mills only 9-16% of pulp is made from pulp logs; the rest comes from waste wood that was traditionally burnt). Paper production accounts for about 35% of felled trees, and represents 1.2% of the world's total economic output. Recycling one ton of newsprint saves about 1 ton of wood while recycling 1 ton of printing or copier paper saves slightly more than 2 tons of wood. This is because kraft pulping requires twice as much wood since it removes lignin to produce higher quality fibres than mechanical pulping processes. Relating tons 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. 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 trees. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certify paper made from trees harvested according to guidelines meant to ensure good forestry practices. It has been estimated that recycling half the world’s paper would avoid the harvesting of 20 million acres (81,000 km²) of forestland.
Energy consumption is reduced by recycling, although there is debate concerning the actual energy savings realized. The Energy Information Administration claims a 40% reduction in energy when paper is recycled versus paper made with unrecycled pulp, while the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) claims a 64% reduction. Some calculations show that recycling one ton of newspaper saves about 4,000 kWh (14 GJ) 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. Recycling paper to make pulp actually consumes more fossil fuels than making new pulp via the kraft process; these mills generate most of their energy from burning waste wood (bark, roots, sawmill waste) and byproduct lignin (black liquor). Pulp mills producing new mechanical pulp use large amounts of energy; a very rough estimate of the electrical energy needed is 10 gigajoules per tonne of pulp (2500 kW·h per short ton).
About 35% of municipal solid waste (before recycling) in the United States by weight is paper and paper products. 42.4% of that is recycled.
Water and air pollution
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that recycling causes 35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution than making virgin paper.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, thus reducing 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. However, recycling mills may have polluting by-products like sludge. De-inking at Cross Pointe's Miami, Ohio mill results in sludge weighing 22% of the weight of wastepaper recycled.
Recycling facts and figures
In the mid-19th century, there was an increased demand for books and writing material. Up to that 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.
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.
Some statistics on paper consumption:
- In 1996 it was estimated that 95% of business information is still stored on paper.
- Recycling 1 short ton (0.91 t) of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7 thousand US gallons (26 m3) of water, 3 cubic yards (2.3 m3) of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil (84 US gal or 320 l), and 4,100 kilowatt-hours (15 GJ) of electricity – enough energy to power the average American home for six months.
- 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.
- 115 billion sheets of paper are used annually for personal computers. The average web user prints 16 pages daily.
- Most corrugated fiberboard boxes have over 25% recycled fibers. Some are 100% recycled fiber.
- In 1997, 299,044 metric tons of paper was produced (including paperboard).
- In the United States, the average consumption of paper per person in 1999 was approximately 354 kilograms. This would be the same consumption for 6 people in Asia or 30 people in Africa.
- In 2006-2007, Australia 5.5 million tons of paper and cardboard was used with 2.5 million tons of this recycled.
- Newspaper manufactured in Australia has 40% recycled content.
Paper recycling in Europe has a long history. The industry self-initiative European Recovered Paper Council(ERPC) was set up in 2000 to monitor progress towards meeting the paper recycling targets set out in the 2000 European Declaration on Paper Recycling. Since then, the commitments in the Declaration have been renewed every five years. In 2011, the ERPC committed itself to meeting and maintaining both a voluntary recycling rate target of 70% in the then E-27 plus Switzerland and Norway by 2015 as well as qualitative targets in areas such as waste prevention, ecodesign and research and development. In 2014 the paper recycling rate in Europe was 71.7%, as stated in the 2014 Monitoring Report.
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.
Recycling has long been practiced in the United States. In 2012, paper and paperboard accounted for 68 million tons of municipal solid waste generated in the U.S., down from more than 87 million tons in 2000, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While paper is the most commonly recycled material—64.6 percent was recovered in 2012—it is being used less overall than at the turn of the century. Paper accounts for more than a half of all recyclables collected in the US, by weight.
The history of paper recycling has several dates of importance:
- In 1690: The first paper mill to use recycled linen was established by the Rittenhouse family.
- In 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.
- In 1993: The first year when more paper was recycled than was buried in landfills.
Today, over half of all paper used in the United States is collected and recycled. Paper products are still the largest component of municipal solid waste, making up more than 40% of the composition of landfills[when?]. In 2006, a record 53.4% of the paper used in the US (53.5 million tons) was recovered for recycling, up from a 1990 recovery rate of 33.5%. The US paper industry set a goal of recovering 55 percent of all paper used in the US by 2012. Paper products used by the packaging industry were responsible for about 77% of packaging materials recycled, with more than 24 million pounds recovered in 2005.
By 1998, some 9,000 curbside recycling programs and 12,000 recyclable drop-off centers existed nationwide. As of 1999, 480 materials recovery facilities had been established to process the collected materials. Recently, junk mail has become a larger part of the overall recycling stream, compared to newspapers or personal letters. However, the increase in junk mail is still smaller compared to the declining use of paper from those sources.
In 2008, the global financial crisis caused the price of old newspapers to drop in the U.S. from $130 to $40 per short ton ($140/t to $45/t) in October.
In Mexico, recycled paper, rather than wood pulp, is the principal feedstock in papermills accounting for about 75% of raw materials.
Limitations and impacts
Along with fibres, paper can contain a variety of inorganic and organic constituents, including up to 10,000 different chemicals, which can potentially contaminate the newly manufactured paper products. As an example, bisphenol A (a chemical commonly found in thermal paper) has been verified as a contaminant in a variety of paper products resulting from paper recycling. Furthermore, groups of chemicals as phthalates, phenols, mineral oils, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and toxic metals have all been identified in paper material. Although several measures might reduce the chemical load in paper recycling (e.g., improved decontamination, optimized collection of paper for recycling), even completely terminating the use of a particular chemical (phase-out) might still result in its circulation in the paper cycle for decades.
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This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "https://web.archive.org/web/20060308134427/http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/recycle.htm".
An Introduction to Paper Recycling
Paper recycling may be defined as a range of activities associated with the recovery and processing of scrap paper so that it can be used in the production of new paper products.
Some Quick Paper Recycling Facts and Figures
- According to the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), newspaper, corrugated cardboard, magazines, and mixed paper are four of the ten most important materials to recycle.
- The amount of paper ending up in U.S. landfills annually has decreased from 41 million tons in 2000 to 21 million tons in 2014.
- The paper recycling rate in the U.S. in 1990 was 33.5 percent. By 2013 and 2014, the rates had increased to 63.5 percent and 65.4 percent respectively. AF&PA member companies have set a goal to reach an overall paper recycling rate of 70 percent in the U.S by 2020.
- While the recycling rate for newsprint rose from 67.5 percent in 2013 to 68.9 percent in 2014, the total volume of material recovered is declining, due to lower newsprint consumption.
- The recycling rate for old corrugated cardboard (OCC) is greater than 90 percent, making it easily the most recycled packaging material, versus 71 percent for other types of paper packaging, 35 percent for aluminum, 33 percent for glass, and 13 percent for plastic.
- Paper is one of the most recycled materials in the UK as well. Two-thirds of yearly paper wastes generated in the UK are recycled.
- If recycled paper is used as the raw material of new paper, it produces 73 percent less air pollution, 35 percent less water pollution and requires 75 percent less processed energy than the amounts required to produce new paper production using only virgin wood.
- Use of each ton of recycled paper in the production of new paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 4,000 KW of energy, three cubic meters of landfill space, 380 gallons of oil, and 17 trees.
- It takes around 24 trees to produce one ton of newspaper.
- Every American uses around 680 pounds of paper per year.
- Every year, scrap paper which would be the equivalent of one billion trees is thrown away in the United States alone.
- 40 percent of all waste materials that go to landfills are paper and paper materials.
The History of Paper Recycling
The first large scale paper recycling is believed to take place during the World War I in the U.S. In the Second World War, paper recycling once again received a significant boost caused by the need for materials. With the passage of time, the paper recycling rate slowly increased and according to sources, around 75 percent of paper and paperboard mills in the United States use recovered paper in the production of new paper. The same report states that 40 percent of the mills rely only on recycled paper.
Recyclable and Non-recyclable Paper
Nearly all kinds of papers are recyclable. Paper items which are not typically acceptable in collection bins include brown and craft envelopes, carbon paper, paper towels, tissues, candy wrappers, coffee cups, and pizza boxes. Some of the most commonly recycled paper items include cardboard, newsprint and magazines, manuals and booklets, and assorted office papers.
The Paper Recycling Process
The paper recycling process involves a number of steps, including collection, transportation, sorting, processing into usable raw materials and finally using that raw material to produce new paper products:
Collection: Waste papers are collected from collection bins and deposited in a big recycling container along with the paper collected from other collection bins. So, all kinds of paper go into a single large container.
Transportation: All the recovered or collected paper waste then get transported to the paper recycling plant on a collection van or truck.
Sorting: After getting transported into recycling plants, papers are sorted into different paper categories such as cardboard, newspapers, newsprint, magazine paper, computer paper etc. as different types of papers are treated differently in the next stages of the process to produce different types of recycled paper products.
Processing the Paper into Usable Raw Material: This is the main stage in a paper recycling process. There are multiple functions in the processing phase which include the following:
Making Pulp or Slurry: Pulping involves water and chemicals. In order to pulp the paper, machines first chop it before water and chemicals are added. Then the mixture is heated to break the paper down more quickly into paper fibers. Finally, the mixtures turn into a mushy mix, known as a slurry or pulp.
Pulp Screening and Cleaning:To remove contaminationfromthe pulp, the pulp is forced through screens with holes of different sizes and shapes to remove contaminants such as globs of glue and bits of plastic. If the pulp still contains any heavy contaminants such as staples, the pulp may also be spun around in huge cone-shaped cylinders. The cylinders throw the heavy contaminants out of the cone using centripetal force while light contaminants go to the center of the cone and are removed.
De-inking: After screening and cleaning come de-inking, which involves removing ink from the paper fibers of the pulp while sticky materials known as “stickies” such as adhesives and glue residue are also separated. De-inking is achieved through a combination of mechanical actions (shredding and the addition of chemicals). Light and small ink particles are removed using water while heavier and larger particles are removed using air bubbles in a process called flotation.
Refining, Color Stripping, and Bleaching: In the refining stage, the pulp is beaten to make the paper fibers swell. Beating the pulp also separates individual fibers to facilitate new paper production from the separated fibers. In case coloring is required, color stripping chemicals are added to the fibers to get rid of the dyes from the paper. In this process, brown papers are obtained. When the goal is to produce white recycled paper, the pulp is bleached with oxygen, chlorine dioxide, or hydrogen peroxide to make them brighter or whiter.
New Papermaking: In the final stage of the paper recycling process, the cleaned paper pulp is then ready to be used in the production of new paper. Normally, the pulp is blended with virgin wood fibers to provide the new paper with added smoothness and strength. The recycled paper fibers can be used alone as well, however.
At this stage, the paper pulp is mixed with chemicals and hot water. The percentage of hot water in the mixture is far greater than that of paper fibers and chemicals. After that, the mixture is fed into the headbox of a papermaking machine and is sprayed in a continuous jet onto a large wire-mesh-like screen moving very fast through the machine. As the water from the mixture starts to drain out, the recycled paper fibers start to bond together to form a watery sheet. Then, the sheet moves quickly through a series of felt-cover press-rollers that squeeze out more water from the paper pulp and it comes out as freshly manufactured paper.
Paper Recycling Industry Associations
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA)AF&PA is the national trade association of forest product industry which represents all the paper based products producing companies in the country and promotes sustainable U.S. forest products in the international marketplace. The AF&PA members produce around 75 percent of paper based products in the U.S.
Independent Waste Paper Processors Association (IWPPA)Established in 1975, IWPPA is the trade association for companies in the paper product industry in the UK. The association has a total of 80 member companies with a combined yearly turnover of more than £2 billion. The members of the association produce over 2 million tons of recyclate.
The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) CPI is another trade association for UK paper based product producers and recyclers with over 70 member companies. CPI member companies have an aggregate yearly turnover of £6.5 billion.
European Recovered Paper Association (ERPA) ERPA is a European trade association that represents recovered paper federations of different European countries. The paper recovery and recycling federations from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Finland are members of ERPA.
Business Opportunities in Paper Recycling
Paper recycling is a well-established, and capital-intensive industry. Paper recycling can be a useful extension of services for companies that recycle other materials. And at the entrepreneurial level, however, there are opportunities available in the provision of services such as collection, transportation, and sorting.
Where in the past, recyclers were likely to remove only a specific recyclable material from a customer, such as pallets or scrap metal, service-oriented recyclers today are increasingly offering to remove several recyclable materials from customers at the same time. Old corrugated cardboard (OCC) is is more frequently being collected as part of dock sweep programs, where a recycler will remove a range of recyclable products from a location at the same time, on the same truck. Such programs are attractive to customers in terms of helping them to remove the materials on a timely basis rather than having to wait to accumulate a full load of a single material.
One entrepreneurial activity associated with paper recycling is that of paper shredding. According to insiders, an investment in the $30,000 to $60,000 range would be required to purchase a truck and shredding machine combination. Revenue is derived from businesses requiring confidential shredding services, as well as from selling the shredded paper to the recycling plant.
Paper Recycling Legislation
The requirements for recycling paper in the U.S. vary from state to state. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have all passed laws requiring that all paper grades are recycled.
California requires that businesses recycle newspaper. In Connecticut, it is mandatory that all waste generators recycle newspaper, magazines and white and colored office paper while options for recycling telephone books and discarded mail are left to local jurisdictions in that state. Maine, South Dakota, and Virginia have also adopted targeted mandatory paper recycling requirements.
Current Trends in Paper Recycling,
The paper recycling rate continues to improve. The industry has been negatively impacted by depressed global prices and challenges associated with contamination during the curbside recycling process. One positive development has been an increase in curbside OCC generation, which is attributed to the growth of e-commerce and home delivery. In fact, paper is increasingly used more for packaging and less for communication, resulting in an evolving mix of material being generated.