How is Paper Recycled?

Jun 16

Think the entire world is going digital? Think again. According to The Paperless Project, more than 300 million tons of paper are produced each year. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), printing and writing papers, including notepads, are the largest category of paper products utilized by consumers. We know we can never do without our favorite notebook, but unfortunately, too much paper is still ending up in landfills, instead of being properly recycled. According to The Paperless Project, 35 percent of the municipal solid waste in landfill sites is comprised of discarded paper.


Advances in recycling technology have made it easy to convert discarded journal, notebook, and sketchpad pages into new blank sheets of paper, giving a second life to the tools and resources that enable our creative genius. Read on to learn how paper is recycled. If you’re not already making the decision to recycle sketches, letters, drafts, and notes you no longer need, make the commitment to start today.

How is Paper Recycled?

What follows is a brief overview of the steps taken to recycle most papers.


  • Collection
      • Local and regional collection agencies (think: your municipal recycling service) collect previously used paper. Aside from paper such as newspapers and magazines recycled from homes, a significant amount of paper is collected from commercial sources.


      • Tip: If you want to recycle paper from your home, be sure to separate it from other recycled materials. Paper contaminated by other recyclable waste products may not be recycled.
  • Collected paper is taken to a mill where it goes through, essentially, the same process it went through the first time it was made into paper.


  • Deinking


  • First, the recovered paper fibers must be sorted and cleaned.
  • If the mill is created what will ultimately be graphic paper made from post-recycled materials, any inks must first be removed from the recovered paper. This is done so that the resulting paper will be a pure white color.

  • To deink the paper, it is dissolved in water and separated from the non-fiber impurities. The fibers are progressively cleaned to create pulp.
  • During this stage, the ink is removed in a flotation process in which air is blown into the solution. The ink then adheres to air bubbles which rise to the surface and are separated away, removing the ink.
  • Once the ink is removed, the fibers are bleached, typically with hydrogen peroxide.

  • Pulping


  • After sorting, grading, and deinking the recovered paper at the mill is mashed into pulp. During this process, large, non-fibrous contaminants are removed (think: that paperclip you left on your notes when you tossed them into the recycling bin at work).
  • After a thorough cleaning, the remaining pulp is filtered and screened several times until it is suitable for being made into paper (again).

  • Worldwide consumption of paper has increased by 400 percent in the last 40 years, however, thanks to advances in recycling technology, only 35 percent of harvested trees are used to manufacture paper. The next time you’re ready to toss a notebook or printed agenda, make sure you place it into a recycling bin, rather than a trash bin. By giving your paper a second life, you’ll be giving someone else a chance to turn that piece of paper into a work of art.

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    • Posted by blog staff


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