Alongside steel and aluminium, paper and cardboard are amongst some of the most recycled materials on the planet. Between home and office recycling in Australia, roughly half of paper and cardboard waste products are disposed of in a sustainable manner. These numbers are slightly skewed however, with roughly 55% of landfill-destined office waste made up of paper products, while this number is a little closer to 25% from residential waste (in 2006-2007).
While the world is constantly progressing in terms of sustainability, these numbers are still alarmingly low. In 2007, from the 5.5 million tones of paper and cardboard products used by business and residential sectors, only 2.5 million tonnes were recycled. Part of the problem is awareness – knowing what can be recycled and what cannot – and accountability; this is, people understanding their responsibility to recycle and knowing just how much difference they can make.
Responsible paper and cardboard recycling can have and incredible impact in the environment – here are some facts about the recycling process and environmental impact of recycling paper waste.
• Making paper from recycled materials requires up to 99% less water and 50% less energy than from raw materials.
• Recycling cardboard and paper is directly linked to greenhouse gas emissions. If you recycle 1kg of cardboard or paper, you reduce greenhouse has emissions by 1kg.
• Recycling 1 tonne of cardboard will save 3 cubic metres of landfill.
• The process of producing 26 sheets of paper produces the same amount of greenhouse gas as driving 1km in your car.
• 1 tree produces roughly only 3077 pieces of paper.
• Paper breaks down very slowly in landfill due to a lack of oxygen, as it does, it releases methane which has a detrimental impact on the environment.
• It takes 2.5 tonnes of radiate pine (pinus radiata) to make one tonne of newsprint.
The Recycling Process – What Happens to Paper When It Is Recycled?
The process of making paper from raw materials has a terrible impact on the environment, whereas the recycling process is very easy, uses little energy and resources, and has incredible benefits for the environment. This is the recycling process:
Step 1: Collection
All paper and cardboard materials are collected from homes, offices and industrial sites by a rubbish removal service. They are then taken to a recycling facility. It is vital that consumers separate their waste responsibly by placing materials in the correct bins for collection.
Step 2: The Sorting Process
At the recycling facility, the paper and cardboard is sorted, then graded depending on the type of material. Each type is then compressed into bales for soaking.
Step 3: Pulping and Screening The Bales
The bales are places in a large vat of water where they are turned into a mixture called ‘pulp’. This mixture is then screened for materials like glue and plastics which need to be removed.
Step 4: Removing The Ink
The next step is to remove the ink. This is achieved by passing air through the pulp which produces a foam that is then washed away, removing at least 50% of the ink. Chemicals are also used to separate the ink from the pulp which is then washed away. Recycled paper tends to have a little more colour than that produced from raw materials.
Step 5: Drying The Pulp
The pulp is then poured onto a wire screen to drain and flattened to form a sheet. Then it is passed under heavy rolling pins which remove even more water and flatten the sheets out. Then it is passed under heat rollers to dry it out, and iron rollers which finally straightens it into paper.
Step 6: Harnessing New Paper
The final product is rolled into large sheets of new paper, sometimes weighing up to 20 tonnes. This new paper is subsequently cut into smaller sheets for re-use.
As you can see the recycling process is fairly easy and requires few resources for production, especially in comparison to creating raw paper. The final product is extremely similar to fresh paper with few drawbacks.
There is no reason why households and offices shouldn’t recycle all of their paper waste products, and considering the environmental benefits it is our duty to do all we can to strive for a more sustainable lifestyle.
If you have large quantities of paper recycling to remove from your house, or have a continuous flow of paper waste being produced in your office or workplace, contact us today or book a free quote online. Sydney Rubbish Services are more than capable of getting the job done right and in a eco-friendly manner.