For most people who recycle, the actual process used is a bit of mystery. As long as the collection company picks up your recyclables or you drop them off yourself, the how and why of waste paper recycling doesn’t top your list of things to worry about. Of course, if you are sending your paper goods to a reputable recycling plant, how the whole thing is done really isn’t that important to your daily life, but it is kind of interesting how your used office paper, newspapers, and magazines get new life. Just for an interesting bit to add to your next green living conversation here is a brief look at the paper waste recycling process.
Naturally, the first part of any waste paper recycling process is to get the stuff to the plant. Some communities offer pick up services either for a small fee or free of charge. In other places, residents are responsible for getting their waste paper to a receptacle bin or to the recycling plant itself. Once the paper products arrive there, they are divided into one of three categories and placed in the pulping machine. The machine adds water and agitates the paper to begin removing ink and debris from the soon to be new paper. Screens are then used to force out any debris that is larger than the paper fibers. This is a crucial step in waste paper recycling.
Much like a washing machine, after facing the screens, the pulp undergoes centrifugal cleaning. Spinning is used to separate the paper materials further from the debris it contains. This is an important part of waster paper recycling. The flotation part of the process adds a surfactant to the mixture, which is used to remove ink from the paper. The ink particles float to the surface where they can be removed.
The washing step of the waste paper recycling process is exactly what it sounds like. Fresh water is added to the paper pulp and the final tiny particles of ink or debris is forced out of the paper. If the paper is intended to for copy paper or a paper product that should be white, either bleach or peroxides are used to get the crisp white color we are familiar with. At this point, the paper is processed and made into sheets just like any other batch of paper.
Any waste from the paper recycling method is either burned to make energy for the plant to function on, is buried in a landfill, or can be used as clean, pure fertilizer by the local farmers. The idea is to keep this process as clean as possible from the beginning to the end.