It’s hard to think of how to recycle paper. The first thing that comes to mind is how to they do it without burning it to ashes. You’ve figured out for sure they don’t do it like that. Water breaks it down, so they can’t do it that way either. Well there are 8 steps to paper recycling that we go through thanks to modern technology. It is also reused in surprising ways.
8 steps of the process of recycling paper
- Collection and Transportation
- Re-pulping and Screening
- Refining and Bleaching
It all starts with us. Technically it ends with us too when we use paper that has been recycled. First we sort through the kinds of paper. Just like birds of a feather flock together, different kinds of paper need to stay with the same kind of paper, such as cardboard for instance. Another example would be disposable catering products. Through the use of technology the paper is sorted. If the paper is all of the same grade, it stays together.
The sorted paper is then taken from recycling bins to a paper mill where they take the different sorted grades and put it into storage until needed and transported to the warehouse where it will be processed on computer run conveyor belts.
The re-pulping and screening process comes next. It’s put into a huge pulping machine and mixed with chemicals as well as water and is chopped into tiny pieces. It is also heated during this process to help it break down faster into cellulose of all things. They prefer the word fiber. The paper is now a big old mixture of pulp much like in your orange juice.
The pulpy mixture is then ran over computer processing screens that remove anything that doesn’t belong that didn’t break down such as any adhesive that might have been on the paper and then pushed through the holes on the screen.
A cleaning process takes place next where it is run through a cleaner and any leftover existing contaminates are removed. This is done by being put in a big cone cylinder and spun around to remove undesirable materials.
Next hey use a process called deinking. Much like a laundry to remove any inks and glue that might have made it to this point by washing and using a technology called flotation. In floatation, chemicals are added to the pulp to be sure to remove any contaminates that snuck through to this point. It is then run through their systems to refine and bleach the pulp. This is done by using hydrogen peroxide so as not to break the pulp down any further and is ready for papermaking.
Papermaking is now ready to take the freshly recycled and cleaned pulp and mix it with chemicals and water to bring it to a very watery consistency. It is then run through a system that sprays it onto a fast moving screen and the water drains through the pulp and it is bonded to make a sheet that still is watery but now is “paper-like.”
It goes through heated rollers and turns into its finished product. Totally recycled paper has been made and is ready to see how it’s going to spend this next lifetime it’s been granted. Thanks to technology we can run such a process and give paper another life.