Almost all of us use paper each and every day. Around 12.5 million tons of paper each year is used in the United Kingdom alone. Sadly, the vast majority of this paper is not recycled. It gets thrown into landfills.
This is a great shame because almost all paper can be recycled and reused numerous times which will, of course, cut back on the number of trees which need to be destroyed to produce it. It also cuts back on the amount of waste we are throwing into landfills which can, of course, greatly increase pollution levels. On this page, we are going to take a quick look at the paper recycling process.
The paper recycling process begins like every other recycling process; the waste is collected. The vast majority of locations in the United Kingdom will have dedicated deposit points for paper. If you live in a major city, it is likely that your local council will collect it directly from your home along with the rest of your waste.
Once the paper has been collected, it will be graded into different qualities. Paper which has been recycled numerous times can’t be recycled again and thus it is removed from the process. The rest of it will be thrown into a big tank.
This tank will be full of at least four chemicals:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Caustic soda
These chemicals will start to separate the fibres of paper. Once these fibres have started to break down, the debris which can’t be recycled i.e. tape, plastic, staples, and paper clips, will be taken out of the process. Everything else will be transferred to a flotation tank.
In the flotation tank, the now completely loose fibres will be cleaned. The job of the flotation tank will be to remove the ink from the paper. The paper will be fed through over and over again. Each time it will get whiter as it becomes cleaner. It is likely that a whitening agent will be added at this stage to boost the whiteness of the paper. At this point, the vast majority of what is in that tank will be water. In fact, 99% of it will be water. It won’t stay that way for long though.
The loose fibres and water will be transferred to a vibrating machine, or perhaps passed through a set of rollers. This will reduce the amount of water in the fibres hugely. It will now, roughly, be a 50/50 split with the fibres.
The next stage will involve these sheets of paper being dried. This will normally involve heated rollers. The paper is almost complete. The last stage will involve this dried paper being dried once more. At the same time it will be flattened out into paper and wound up onto a huge roll. This roll of recycled paper will then be distributed to purchases, which tend to be producers of officer stationary and materials. It will then be cut down and sold.
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