turned into other products. Generally, this includes various types of cardboard and paper products. Not all waste paper is created equal, and there are three different categories of paper that are recycled in order to create more paper products. These categories are mill broke, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste (Waite 2013).
When paper is manufactured, there are ends, pieces, and scraps that are removed from it in the mill (Best & Kneip 2011). These are the mill broke pieces of waste paper that can be recycled. They are generally taken straight from the paper mill to the recycling plant. If the plant has its own recycling area, these mill broke pieces are simply recycled internally and reused in the continued paper production (Best & Kneip 2011). Most plants have these types of recycling facilities, but they may not all offer that option. For plants that do not have their own recycling areas, taking the mill broke waste paper to a recycling plant is much less expensive and better for the environment than simply throwing it away (Best & Kneip 2011; Blanco, Miranda, & Monte 2013).
Waste paper for recycling also comes from pre-consumer waste. This is paper that has already been processed and has left the mill, but that does not make it all the way to being used by a consumer (Li, et al. 2013). There might be irregularities in the paper, or it may simply not sell for a specific reason. None of this paper is purchased and used by a consumer, which can make a definite difference in the cost of recycling it. This paper is collected from stores, warehouses, and other storage facilities, depending on where it was located after it left the mill but before it was purchased for use by a consumer (Blanco, Miranda, & Monte 2013; Li, et al. 2013).
The third category of waste paper for recycling is post-consumer waste, which is paper that has already been used (Yamashita & Suzuki 2014). This paper is then discarded, and can include office paper, notebooks, newspapers, magazines, corrugated containers, telephone directories, and various types of mixed paper products that are collected in recycling bins from residential customers (Yamashita & Suzuki 2014). If it is suitable for being recycled, it is generally called "scrap paper," and may be used in molded pulp packaging and other applications, depending on the needs of the recycling facility and those to whom it sells its products (Yamashita & Suzuki 2014).
There are several things that have to be done in order to make the paper acceptable for recycling, including removing the printing ink from the actual fibers of the paper (Hubbe 2014). This is an industrial process, appropriately called deinking, that creates a deinked pulp that can be easily recycled (Hubbe 2014). In order to understand the true value of recycling paper, it is very important to be aware of how the actual process works. The waste paper that comes into the recycling facility is mixed with chemicals and water, which breaks down the paper (Virtanen & Nilsson 2013). Then it is chopped up and heat is applied to it, which further breaks it down into individual strands of cellulose (Virtanen & Nilsson 2013).
Cellulose is a kind of organic plant material, and how paper products start out. The mixture created from these cellulose strands and the chemicals used to create them is often called pulp, although some recycling facilities call it slurry (Laurijssen, et al. 2010). The slurry gets strained through screens, where any plastic or glue that is still left in the mixture is removed (Laurijssen, et al. 2010). Once that is done, the pulp that is left is cleaned, deinked, and bleached, after which it is mixed with more water (Merrild, Larsen, & Christensen 2012). At that point, it is ready to be made into recycled paper. After approximately seven times of being recycled, the cellulose strands are no longer viable. They will become shorter each time they are recycled, and eventually be filtered out (Young, et al. 2010).
There are a number of reasons to consider recycling paper, but the main rationale for the process is environmentally based (Young, et al. 2010). Recycling waste paper means that fewer raw materials will be needed, and that fewer items go into landfills. It is a winning process from both angles of approach. A full 90% of the paper pulp that is created in mills today comes from wood (Sidique, Joshi, & Lupi 2010). Approximately 10 to 15% of that comes from actual pulp logs, and the rest comes from wood that, in the past, would have been waste which would have been burnt (Sidique, Joshi, & Lupi 2010).
Modern mills are becoming increasingly more efficient, and recycling is a big part of that. The production of paper accounts for around 35% of the trees that are cut down every year, so it is very important to recycle waste paper in order to reduce the number of trees that are being cut down to make paper (Yan, Sagoe-Crentsil, & Shapiro 2011). Recycling one ton of newspapers can save one ton of wood, while the recycling of one ton of copier paper can save nearly two tons of wood (Yan, Sagoe-Crentsil, & Shapiro 2011).
The difference between the two lies in the kraft pulping method, which requires the use of twice as much wood (Best & Kneip 2011). Lignin is removed during that process, as this produces a higher quality of fiber than can be reached with processes that use mechanical pulping (Best & Kneip 2011). While it is possible to state how many tons of wood is saved from recycling one ton of a particular kind of paper, it is not possible to state how many trees will be saved that way, since the size of trees and other factors affect the number of them that would need to be cut down in order to produce one ton of wood. There are trees that are raised just for pulp production, but they only account for approximately 15% of that production (Blanco, Miranda, & Monte 2013).
Old-growth forests make up another 10% of pulp production, with newer forests accounting for the rest of the production (Blanco, Miranda, & Monte 2013). Most of the people who operate pulp mills do their part in being environmentally friendly by practicing reforestation (Merrild, Larsen, & Christensen 2012). In other words, they replant trees, so there will be a continuous supply of them and they will not need to cut into old-growth trees instead. Still, 20 million acres of forested land could be saved if just half of the waste paper in the world was recycled instead of so much of it being discarded (Blanco, Miranda, & Monte 2013; Hubbe 2014).
Another important point that can be made about waste paper recycling is that is saves energy, and the savings can be up to 40% or more, which is substantial (Li, et al. 2013). Making paper from recycled waste paper simply costs less to do than when a mill has to start with new pulp, and it has been clearly shown to help the environment (Virtanen & Nilsson 2013; Waite 2013). In addition to the energy savings, nearly 35% of the solid waste in landfills is made up of paper and paper products (Waite 2013). The more of that paper that gets recycled, the less will go to landfills. That reduces the amount of trash in landfills, and it also takes longer for them to get full.
That is easier on the environment, and frees up space for actual garbage that is not able to be recycled. Recycling is not going to fix all of the world's problems, but it is going to make an environmental difference if it is taken seriously and used correctly. The more recycling that is done, the more paper mills can help protect the environment and the ecosystem around them (Best & Kneip 2011). The value of this is significant. The mills generally look at the money they can save, which is important, but they must also consider the impact they will have on the planet (Best & Kneip 2011).
Fewer Pollution Concerns
Recycling causes less pollution to the water and air, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found (Hubbe 2014). It estimates that 35% less water pollution and nearly 75% less air pollution is seen when waste paper is recycled properly as opposed to when paper is made from new materials (Hubbe 2014). Because pulp mills -- especially those that are creating bleached pulp -- can be common sources of pollutants that find their way into the air and water, it is highly important for these mills to do what they can to reduce their environmental impact and their carbon footprint. Recycling waste paper is among the ways in which they can do that.
While it is possible to use the same compounds to bleach both new and recycled pulp to create paper,…