Around 400 million tons of paper and cardboard are produced globally every year. It’s easy to see why this can be an issue—not only does it lead to landfills clogged with paper waste, but it also contributes substantially to carbon emissions.
Fortunately, through proper waste management practices, we can minimize our environmental impact by recycling our paper. In this article, we will explore the process of recycling paper in detail: how strategic waste management mitigates your paper waste and what steps you can take to ensure that your business is operating as sustainably as possible.
How does the Process of Recycling Paper Work?
Recycling paper is an important step in conserving natural resources and reducing the environmental impact of discarded paper. The paper recycling process typically includes the following steps:
- Collection and Sorting: The first step in recycling paper is to collect waste paper. This can be done through placing paper recycling bins in homes, offices, and other public places, alongside bins for glass, metals, and plastics as part of a multi-stream recycling program. The collected paper is then sorted by type, including office paper, newspaper, cardboard, and other types of paper. The sorting process removes any non-paper materials, such as plastic, metal, and rubber, that may have contaminated the paper.
- Pulping: The waste paper is subjected to a pulping process. The pulping process separates the fibers in the paper. The pulping process can be done using mechanical or chemical methods, depending on the type of paper being recycled.
- Screening and Cleaning. The pulped mixture is then screened to remove any impurities such as staples, adhesives, and plastics.
- De-inking: If the paper being recycled is printed, it may require a de-inking process to remove dyes and ink from the fibers. This is typically done using chemicals and mechanical methods, such as flotation, that separate the ink from the fibers.
- Bleaching: The cleaned fibers may then be subjected to a bleaching process, which removes any remaining impurities and brightens the fibers. This is typically done using hydrogen peroxide or other chemicals.
- Forming and Drying: The fibers are then formed into sheets using metal rollers. The sheets are then pressed and dried to remove any excess water and remaining moisture.
- Finishing: The dried sheets of paper pulp are then cut into the desired size and finished into new paper products, such as office paper, paper napkins, cardboard, or newsprint.
The recovered paper can then be used to create a wide range of products, including office paper, cartons, paperboard, newsprint, toilet paper, and paper towels. Recycling paper conserves natural resources, reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, and decreases the carbon footprint of waste paper. However, it is important to note that not all paper products are recyclable. Paper products that are contaminated with food, chemicals, or other non-paper materials may not be able to be recycled. In these instances, there may be an option for composting the waste paper products..
What are the Benefits of Recycling Paper?
When it comes to paper waste, recycling is one of the most effective ways to mitigate your environmental impact. Recycling paper conserves natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and saves energy.
Here are some more specific benefits of recycling paper:
- Recycling one ton of paper can save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, and enough electricity to power the average home for six months.
- Paper recycling prevents pollution by reducing the need to harvest new trees for virgin wood fibers and produce new paper products.
- The process of recycling paper uses less energy than making paper from virgin pulp.
- Recycled materials including paper products are often just as strong and durable as their non-recycled counterparts.
How can Strategic Waste Management Help Reduce Paper Waste?
Strategic waste management can help reduce paper waste in a number of ways. One way is by reducing the amount of paper that is sent to landfills. This can be done by increasing recycling rates, which will in turn reduce the amount of paper that ends up in landfills.
Another way that strategic waste management can help reduce paper waste is by reducing the amount of paper that is used in the first place. Here are some ways to reduce the use of paper:
- Use both sides of the paper. When printing documents, encourage your employees to select the option to print on both sides of the paper. This will cut down the amount of paper you use by half!
- Invest in reusable notebooks. Ditch the disposable notebooks and opt for a reusable one instead. You can also find notebooks made from sustainable materials like bamboo or recycled plastic.
- Send emails instead of letters. Whenever possible, communicate electronically instead of sending physical letters through the mail. This will save on paper and postage costs.
- Use scrap paper for notes. Don’t let those scraps of paper go to waste – put them to good use by using them for taking notes or jotting down ideas! Reuse paper wherever possible including packaging waste and sheets of paper that have been printed on one side.
What are the Steps to Implement a Paper Waste Management Plan in your Organization?
Implementing a paper recycling strategy in an organization requires careful planning, commitment, and effective execution. The following steps can help an organization achieve its goal of reducing paper waste and promoting sustainability.
- Assess the current paper usage: The first step in implementing a paper recycling strategy is to determine the amount of paper being used by the organization. This information can be gathered through waste audits, surveys, monitoring the usage of printers, copiers, and other paper-based equipment, or conducting an inventory of paper supplies.
- Set goals and objectives: Based on the results of the assessment, set achievable and measurable goals for reducing paper usage and increasing recycling. These goals should be specific, time-bound, and tied to the organization’s sustainability plan.
- Develop a recycling plan: The next step is to develop a comprehensive recycling plan that outlines the steps the organization will take to reduce paper waste and promote recycling. This plan should include information on the types of paper to be recycled, the process for collecting and storing recyclable paper, and the methods for disposing of it.
- Train employees: Employee engagement is critical to the success of a paper recycling strategy. Provide training to employees on the importance of recycling, the procedures for separating recyclable paper, and the role they play in achieving the organization’s sustainability goals. Encourage employees to adopt environmentally friendly practices, such as double-sided printing, electronic communication, and reducing paper usage.
- Implement recycling bins and signage: Make it easy for employees to recycle by placing recycling bins in common areas, such as near printers and copiers. Label the bins clearly with information on what can and cannot be recycled, and include reminders to recycle paper.
- Partner with a recycling service provider: Identifying a reputable recycling service provider such as Waste Control is essential for effective paper recycling. Choose a provider that has experience in handling paper recycling and offers a comprehensive recycling program. Work with the provider to establish a collection schedule and determine the best methods for storing recyclable paper until it can be collected. Working with trustworthy recycling facilities will also help you in getting the most out of your recycling program.
- Monitor and evaluate the program: Regularly monitor and evaluate the success of the paper recycling program to identify areas for improvement. Collect data on the amount of paper recycled, the cost savings associated with recycling, and the impact on the environment. Use this information to make adjustments to the program as needed and to track progress toward achieving the organization’s sustainability goals.
- Communicate and celebrate successes: Encourage employees to participate in the paper recycling program by sharing success stories and recognizing their efforts. Promote the program through internal communications, such as newsletters and bulletin boards, to raise awareness and build a culture of sustainability.
Implementing strategic waste management in your organization is a great way to reduce the amount of paper waste you create. Utilizing recycling centers and incorporating compost bins into your routine are excellent ways to further mitigate paper waste and help contribute to a more sustainable future.
Recycling paper makes a ton of sense (pun intended). You prevent trees from being cut down which helps in fighting the effects of global warming. You also prevent paper waste from ending up in landfills. Additionally, recycling saves costs in the long run for your business.
Not sure where to start with your paper recycling process? We at Waste Control can help! We have worked with hundreds of organizations in implementing end-to-end strategic waste management plans including paper waste management. Our experts will give you the best guidance and help you save costs by implementing waste management strategies. Talk to us today!