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Recycling Paper : How It Helps Our Eco-System

Recycling paper is the process of taking waste paper, or paper that would otherwise be thrown out, and remaking it into new paper products. Paper that can be used to make recycled paper is broken down into three categories- mill broke, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste. Mill broke paper is paper that becomes scrap during the manufacturing of paper and it is recycled right in the paper mill. Pre-consumer paper waste is papers that were discarded before consumer use. Post-consumer paper waste is papers that were discarded by the consumer after use. Paper that is used in recycling is called scrap paper.

What is the recycling process?

There are usually 8 steps in the process of recycling paper. The first is called pulping, which is adding water to the paper and using machines to separate the fibers. The second step is screening, where screens are used to remove contaminants that are larger than the fibers. Next is centrifugal cleaning during which the materials that are denser than fiber are released. Flotation or drinking then causes ink to collect on the surface of the paper. The fifth step is called kneading or dispersion. Here machines help remove any remaining contaminant particles. Nest washing helps remove any small particles by passing water through the fibers. If the paper is supposed to be white, it is now bleached. Finally, the recycled paper is clean and it is now made into a new paper product.

What types of paper can be recycled?

Each recycling plant accepts different kinds of paper for recycling. Some types of paper forms that are commonly accepted include:

• White and colored paper
• White and colored envelopes
• Booklets or manuals
• Fax or copy paper
• Greeting cards
• Post-it notes
• Soft covered books
• Manila folders
• Magazines
• Newspapers
• Collapsed cardboard boxes

Why recycle?

90% of paper is made from wood. Paper production uses about 43% of harvested wood. Recycling newspaper saves about 1 ton of wood and recycling print or copy paper saves about 2 tons of wood.

Energy consumption is also reduced by recycling. However, the exact energy savings is still being debated. The Energy Information Administration claims that when paper is made with recycled paper, there is a 40% reduction in energy use, but the Bureau of International Recycling says that there is a 64% reduction. Regardless of which estimate is correct, both numbers represent a significant energy savings.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that recycling paper causes 35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution.

What are some of the resources saved per ton of paper recycled?

• 17 trees
• 350 pounds of limestone
• 60,000 gallons of water
• 9,000 pounds of steam
• 275 pounds of sulfur
• 225 kilowatt hours
• 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space

Recycling paper has substantial benefits on our eco-system and it is so easy to do! Many communities have a recycling pickup day just as they have garbage pickup days. Simply contact your local waste management center or MicroShred to find out how to begin recycling in your community!

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