Why Paper is Worth Recycling
Paper recycling? That thing we used to do back in the days when automatic pencil sharpeners were cool? Yes. It was important then, and it’s still important today!
Despite the fact that offices and schools are going paperless, paper recycling remains a main component of municipal recycling. And no, it’s not just a ploy to keep the loggers employed. So, even though you’re likely reading this online, it’s worth taking a closer look at why paper recycling remains essential in the digital age.
Paper recycling helps reduce waste and conserve resources. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how paper recycling works, how many times paper can be recycled, and the benefits of paper recycling for industrial waste management and the environment.
How Garbage Becomes Paper Again
Paper recycling is a multi-step process that begins with the collection and sorting of garbage. We all help do our part in sorting recycling before collection. This removes a significant hurdle for recycling centers.
Once the paper waste has been collected, machines pulp the paper into something that resembles a mix of sheep’s wool and whipped topping. The fibers are then cleaned and filtered to remove any impurities, such as ink and staples. Finally, the centers form the fibers into new paper products, like paper towels, tissue, and packaging materials.
How Many Times Can Paper Be Recycled?
It depends on the type of paper and the recycling process used. On average, recyclers might process paper five to seven times before the fibers become too short to be useful.
Many things, like tires or plastics, can only be recycled once or twice. The ability of paper products to be recycled multiple times is one reason why paper recycling is a fundamental part of industrial waste management.
Still, it varies depending on the paper product. Here are some examples of how many times different types of paper can be recycled:
- Office paper: 5-7 times
- Newspapers: 5-6 times
- Corrugated cardboard: 3-5 times
- Tissue paper: 3-4 times
Benefits of Paper Recycling
Paper recycling brings benefits to consumers as well as the environment. Many people recycle paper to ‘save the trees.’ Green America website states that “Recycled paper is proven to save trees: using less tree fiber, fresh water, energy, and producing less waste than traditional virgin fiber paper.” So while there is some validity to the saving tree claim, most of the benefits are less intuitive. Consider these three benefits of paper recycling:
- Slows climate change: While the industry is still transitioning to renewable energy, the less processing of raw materials required, the less greenhouse gas emissions are released.
- Saves space in landfills: While landfills attempt to deal with waste in the most sustainable manner possible, it’s good to remember they are the best of all bad options. Keeping paper out of landfills allows them more space to deal with less clean garbage. On a similar note, paper recycling saves space in your own trash bin.
- Creates jobs in the recycling industry: Paper doesn’t just get jammed in your printer. People are employed in recycling centers to maintain equipment and transport paper products to and from the processing plant. Recycling plants are a great industry to support to combat rising unemployment rates.
How to Recycle Paper
Recycling paper should be easy. It doesn’t matter whether you have a few sheets or a bin full of textbooks. Almost all recycling programs and services accept paper waste; some even offer curbside pickup. If you have loads of paper to get rid of, look up “garbage pick up services near me” to get in touch with a hassle-free waste disposal company.
Note for DIY’ers: You can also recycle paper yourself. It probably won’t turn out as smooth and thin as the paper industrial machines produce, but it can be a fun project and a great way to teach children about circular product life. Here are the steps:
- Tear old paper into small pieces and soak them overnight.
- Blend soaked paper to create pulp.
- Pour the pulp into a large container of water and mix it thoroughly.
- Dip a screen mold into the pulp mixture and lift it out to create a sheet of wet paper.
- Press excess water out of the wet paper and leave it to dry completely.
Finally, it’s worth knowing that many local businesses, such as office supply stores and grocery stores, also offer recycling programs for their customers if you want to offload paper to them.
Doing the right thing with your piles of paper
Now you understand how paper recycling works, how many times paper can be recycled, and the benefits of recycling paper, putting paper into the recycling bin is a no-brainer. When it benefits the environment and the economy, it’s easy to see why paper recycling makes sense.