Paper Recycling 101: When, What, Where, How?

Paper recycling is extremely important if we want to contribute to the decrease of trees’ cut down. We all know that this idea is emphasized at home, at school and also at work. When we recycle paper, we actually save energy, conserving natural resources, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Paper recycling consists in reprocessing waste paper to make it reusable.

Usually, all this waste paper comes from paper mill scraps and home recycling bins. Furthermore, another reason why we should all participate it’s because paper is a material which is easy to recycle. Statistics have shown that the average person in the U.S. uses seven trees in paper every year. Therefore, more than 2,000,000 trees are cut down every year.

Paper recycling can diminish the greenhouse gas emissions

Cutting down this huge amount of trees leads to a negative impact on our planet climate. Furthermore, besides destroying forests, this process also affects the natural habitats of several species of plants and animals. Therefore, many ecosystems are destroyed. We also need to keep in mind the fact that the process of making paper also consumes a lot of energy and water resources.

It is best to recycle the existing paper and reuse it, instead of just throwing it into the trash and waste a lot more resources to develop new paper. Do not ever think that your contribution in paper recycling is insignificant. Any small contribution leads to a significant impact on the environment. If we were all to have this thought, then most likely nothing would ever be done.

We need to stand together and do everything we can to save this planet. We can all feel the negative effects of climate change. Killing more and more trees means also hurting a lot more species of animals and plants which are on the verge of extinction. Every country needs to work on recycling paper, developing as many campaigns as possible to save the trees.

Paper recycling saves a big amount of energy and resources

According to a study developed by the University of Southern Indiana, the total amount of wood and paper we discard annually can heat more than 50,000,000 houses for over twenty years. Therefore, this shows how important it is to recycle all the paper we use. Besides saving on energy, recycling paper also diminishes the amount of greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change.

Another obvious benefit is the reduction of the amount of waste which is disposed to landfill. In this way, the garbage which cannot be recycled will be placed there instead. The amount of water and energy which are saved is huge. We can use these resources in other more useful ways.

If you recycle paper, you can obtain a wide range of new products like:

  • loft insulation;
  • grocery bags;
  • egg cartons;
  • cereal boxes;
  • paperboard cracker;
  • napkins;
  • paper towels;
  • greeting cards;
  • tissues;
  • toilet paper;
  • newspaper;
  • magazines;
  • books;
  • office paper, and more.

In what follows, we will indicate what kind of paper can be recycled and which types you should avoid recycling.

Shredded paper and a pile of used paper right near it

Paper recycling will not only diminish the amount of trees that are cut, but will also preserve many ecosystems.

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What kinds of paper are recyclable?

These are the types of paper you should recycle:

  • paper coffee cups (but remove the lids);
  • soft-cover books;
  • shredded paper;
  • paper drink cartons;
  • unwaxed food packaging;
  • paperboard;
  • toilet roll tubes;
  • paper towel tubes;
  • tissue boxes;
  • junk mail;
  • catalogs;
  • phonebooks;
  • magazines;
  • newspapers;
  • white paper;
  • colored paper;
  • office paper.

What kinds of paper are not recyclable?

Maybe you did not know that, but not all types of paper can be recycled due to the fact that some may have already been recycled once. Therefore, you should not recycle things like:

  • wet paper;
  • paper contaminated with oil, grease, food or bodily fluids;
  • napkins;
  • tissue paper;
  • paper towels;
  • wrapping paper;
  • wax paper.

The recycling process

If you already have one bag or even more full of paper that needs to be recycled, you should know that different regional collection systems can help you. They collect the paper and recycle it. These recycling systems feature several curbside programs, drop-off centers, school-based programs and office-based collection.

After these systems gather the paper, they transfer it to a recycling center or a Material Recovery Facility. Next, they are in charge of removing any contaminants like glass, plastics, and metals. After this task is complete, they secure the paper in mills and transport it to a paper mill. When the paper gets there, they shred and mix the paper fiber with water to develop a pulp.

Then, they clean it, refine it and then turn it into slush. After this stage, they add a mixture of additives and dyes and the slush appears on a massive moving screen where they drain the water away and recycle the paper.

The final product is a paper sheet which is called a web. Specialists place this web between two massive rollers and press it to extract the water that might have been left there. In this way, they smooth it down, the paper having a uniform thickness.

Next, the web passes through some heated dryer rollers, and the paper is arranged into rolls. Sometimes, these paper rolls may be  30 feet wide. The final step is to cut the paper into manageable rolls. Now they are ready for use.

Did you know that…?

Statistics show that people use 500,000 trees in the U.S. to produce the Sunday newspapers each week. If every American in the country recycled only 1/10 of their newspapers, then they will save more than 25,000,000 trees every year. The statistics developed by the Brigham Young University Idaho indicates that on average, an entire household throws about 13,000 sheets of paper into the trash. Most of this paper would be packaging and junk mail.

If you are looking for a place to recycle the used paper, you should contact your local public works department to ask for more information. Furthermore, the website Earth 911 also has a recycling locator that you can use. In this way, you will find out where in your area you can take the old paper to be recycled.

Summing up

Hopefully, these facts about paper recycling will make you realize how important our recycling efforts are for the environment, saving up energy and resources. Furthermore, we can also diminish the amount of greenhouse gas emissions via paper recycling.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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