Paper & cardboard recycling is really important as each year Canadians use millions of tonnes of paper and paperboard and cardboard. For each ton of non-recycled printing and office paper that is made, about 24 trees are used. Around 12 trees are to make a ton of newsprint; it takes 8 trees to make lower end magazine paper and a little more than 15 trees for a ton of higher-end virgin magazine paper. This mean on average 17 trees are required to make a ton of virgin paper.
Not only does recycling save millions of trees but it also saves 40% of energy in the manufacturing process.
When paper is taken to the cardboard recycling centre, the first step in the process is removing any other trash that is not paper. The paper is then sorted based on grades. The grade of paper is determined by the length of the fibres which shorten every time it is recycled. Paper can be recycled five to seven times before the fibres become too short to make
new paper. When this happens, virgin fibres are then mixed it with the recycled ones. Printing paper is a high grade of paper while newspaper is a lower grade because it has already be recycled numerous times.
Once paper is sorted, it is stored in bales until a mill needs it. When it gets to the mill, the paper is shredded into small pieces. Water and chemicals are then mixed in with the paper. This is heated causing the pieces of paper to break down into fibres. Adhesives and any other remaining contaminants are then removed from the mixture by being passed through a screen.
The paper is then spun in a cone-shaped cylinder to clean it, and in some cases, ink will also be removed. Next, the pulp is sent through a machine that sprays it onto a conveyor belt. Water drips through the belt’s screen, and the paper fibres start to bond together. Heated metal rollers are then used to dry the paper after which the paper is put onto large rolls to be made into new paper products.
While more paper is now being made from recycled material, a significant amount of paper still ends up in landfills. This means much can be done to reduce waste. Here’s how you can help. If you are not already participating in a recycling programme, start today. If you already recycling ensure you are doing so correctly. Understanding what can be recycled is a good place to start. Some paper products that can be recycled include:
High-grade papers such as printing paper can be recycled to create more office paper if it is kept separate from other waste paper. It can also be used to make tissue paper, paperboard, stationery, magazines and other paper products.
Lower-grade papers, such as coloured paper, stock paper and ground wood papers, are made into cardboard, tissues, newspaper and toilet paper.
Corrugated cardboard is a stiff, strong, and light-weight material made up of three layers of brown kraft paper. Many cardboard boxes are already made from recycled material or from by-products of the lumber industry like sawdust and wood chips. When recycled, cardboard can be used to make products like cereal boxes, paperboard, paper towels, tissues and printing or writing paper. It is also used to make more corrugated cardboard.
You may think that your magazines can’t be recycled because they are made using glossy paper. However, the process that causes the paper to be glossy does not contaminate the paper in any way. Recycled magazines are used to make newspaper, tissues, writing paper and paperboard.
Although most newspapers are made using a large amount of recycled fibre, newspapers can be further recycled to create cereal boxes, egg cartons, pencil barrels, grocery bags, tissue paper, new newspapers and other products including cellulose insulation.
The next time you receive unsolicited mail whether flyers, catalogues or coupons you should opt to recycle them.
Have you ever considered recycling your old phone books? If not, you should. Phone book pages are 100% recyclable and are often used to make new phone books.
Paperboard (for example cereal boxes) as well as dairy and juice cartons can be recycled to recover fibres to be used in items such as tissue and paper towel.
You may think that placing used paper towel with other paper for recycling is a good idea, but this is not the case. Soiled paper towel may harbour contaminants that could ruin an entire batch of recyclables if mixed in. Although recycling centres clean the paper products they receive, there is no way to remove the grease from the fibres of the paper. This can cause oil spots or even holes to appear in a new batch of paper.
Paper towel is also already made from paper that has been recycled several times which means the fibres are too short to be useful in creating new paper products. The good news is that because of these short fibres they will decompose easily and can be added to a compost pile, especially they are unbleached and not excessively soiled.
If at any point you find yourself with paper and you are not sure what to do with it, feel free to email Growing City for more information.
And if you are ready to make your office a more environmentally friendly place, call us today and let us take care of your recycling needs.
Learn more about how the Vancouver branch of global engineering firm GHD successfully sorts their waste and recycling streams with Growing City, and how they encourage best practices at the office.
Learn more about Zero Waste Canada with founder Jamie Kaminski.