How is Paper Recycled? Simplified 8-step process to paper recycling!

Paper Recycling Steps

Paper is made by pressing two fibers of cellulose pulp. It is derived from wood, grasses or rags. It is a highly versatile material used in printing, writing, decorating, typing and packaging.

Although the use of paper is very crucial in our everyday lives, its production can have serious effects on the environment.

Paper production has led to huge deforestation in the world and the bleaching of pulp by chlorine has led to the development of chlorinated dioxins which are highly carcinogenic and can lead to developmental, reproductive and hormonal problems in humans as well as animals.

Paper production has also led to the increased filling of landfills. Roughly about 400 million metric tons of paper is produced with Japan, America and China being the largest contributors to this number.

Due to these reasons, people have adopted the recycling of paper to form recycled paper products which can be used to make products such as towels, tissues and napkins. Currently 80% of the paper we are using nowadays can be recycled.

8 simplified steps of Industrial paper recycling process

Let me inform you through the rigorous industrial process of paper recycling. Then I’ll go on to explain how to recycle paper at home, scroll down to find out!

1. Sorting

The recycling starts with collection and sorting of the desired material.

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It can be done at a recycling facility or at home even.

You can make it more convenient for the recycling facility by sorting out the paper yourself (image). This will reduce time and increase efficiency of the recycling process.

2. Transporting

The sorted paper is then collected and transported to large storage facilities where they are stored for some time after which they are again transported to a pulping machine.

3. Pulping

The paper is chopped into small bits. Water is added along with chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide and sodium silicate so that the fibers can be broken down and separated.

It is then heated to form a solution of creamy consistency known as the pulp.

4. Screening

The screening of the pulp then takes place. In this step, the pulp is passed through various holes of different shapes and sizes.

This is so that if there’s any part of the pulp which has not broken down by pulping, is filtered out.

5. Cleaning

A centrifuge-like process takes place to remove all impurities and further clean the final mixture.

The process allows lighter objects to gather in the center and the heavy objects paper pins, staples and clips to be sidelined and thrown away.

6. De-inking

Color, adhesives and glue are all removed from the paper in this process.

This step depends on the type of paper and whether it will have the previously mentioned residues or not.

This is a two-stage process, called flotation-deinking.

The ink is first removed by washing the pulp thoroughly which is known as wash deinking process. The particles smaller than 10um, will require an extra step to be removed which is known as the flotation process.

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The pulp is placed in a flotation vat and surfactant-like chemical known as ‘collector’ is added to it. The temperature is kept around 50 degrees Celsius and Air bubbles are blown through the container.

The ‘collector’ attracts air bubbles and the ink particles causing them to attach. The air bubbles attached with ink and other chemicals move up the container and can be collected from the top by skimming.

Sometimes Flotation and Wash de-inking are combined.

Flotation Deinking Process

Enzymatic Deinking is also another process, usually applied in combination with flotation deinking.

7. Bleaching

Bleaching is done if the paper is to be made white.

The recycled paper is treated with oxygen, chlorine and hydrogen peroxide (making bleach) to make white paper.

It is further treated to remove all color residues. Cardboard paper is not required to be bleached.

8. Rolling

The pulp is then drained of water allowing the fibers to stick to each other. Rollers are used to further remove excess amount of water. Hot metal rollers then dry the paper and form a giant roll of recycled paper.

This whole process makes you think that it’s not possible for one to recycle paper at home. One couldn’t be more wrong! We’ve started recycling paper at home since decades now.

Recycling paper at home can be a fun activity for children to learn and also realize how important it is to save paper to protect and save the environment.

How to recycle paper at home?

Recycling of papers at home is very easy and doesn’t necessarily require a facility to carry out.

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We’ll show you how you can recycle paper at home.

All you require is the following:

  • Water
  • Blender
  • Mesh
  • Sponge
  • Pan
  • Picture frame
  • Used/old paper (to be recycled)
Here’s a video outlining the process, you can use it in addition to the steps given below!

After collecting all of those you can proceed to the most seamless way of recycling paper right away!

  1. Fix the mesh to the picture frame using any adhesives or glue to form a paper mold
  2. Tear the paper and then add those small pieces of paper into a blender. Add warm water and blend the ingredients until a pulp of cream like consistency is seen in the blender.
  3. Place the mold made of mesh and picture frame onto the pan, and then add the pulp into the pan while passing through the mold. After all the pulp has covered the mold, pull the mold up. The mold will now have a layer of paper pulp all over the mesh.
  4. Dry the paper (on mold) using sponge or a towel to remove all the excessive amount of water within the paper and then let it dry!

Other than recycling paper at home; Although we’d want you to go paper-less, if you’d like to buy paper we’d suggest you get 100% recycled paper made from sustainable practices.

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