Paper recycling
July 4, 2016
Posted by inConfidence

The process of waste paper recycling involves mixing used paper with water and chemicals to break it down. It is then chopped up and heated, which breaks it down further into strands of cellulose, a type of organic plant material; this resulting mixture is called pulp, or slurry. It is strained through screens, which remove any glue or plastic that may still be in the mixture then cleaned, de-inked, bleached, and mixed with water. Then it can be made into new recycled paper. The share of ink in a wastepaper stock is up to about 2% of the total weight. Industrialized paper making has an effect on the environment both upstream (where raw materials are acquired and processed) and downstream (waste-disposal impacts).Today, 40% of paper pulp is created from wood (in most modern mills only 9-16% of pulp is made from pulp logs; the rest comes from waste wood that was traditionally burnt). Paper production accounts for about 35% of felled trees and represents 1.2% of the world’s total economic output. Recycling one ton of newsprint saves about 1 ton of wood while recycling 1 ton of printing or copier paper saves slightly more than 2 tons of wood. This is because craft pulping requires twice as much wood since it removes lignin to produce higher quality fibers than mechanical pulping processes. Relating tons of paper recycled to the number of trees not cut is meaningless, since tree size varies tremendously and is the major factor in how much paper can be made from how many trees. Trees raised specifically for pulp production account for 16% of world pulp production, old growth forests 9% and second- and third- and more generation forests account for the balance. Most pulp mill operators practice reforestation to ensure a continuing supply of trees. It has been estimated that recycling half the world’s paper would avoid the harvesting of 20 million acres (81,000 km²) of forestland.

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