Paper comprises 35% of our total trash. However, used paper is an important source of raw material and is easy to recycle, compared to other materials.
Recycling Helps Us Live Better
We have been repeatedly told that recycling paper saves forests, saves energy in production and transportation and, thereby, reduces global warming. These ideas may be too farfetched for us. More compelling reasons could be:
- Landfills are filling up faster than we think. Recycling will save that valuable space.
- Once all landfills are filled up, new ones need to be dug. The next one may be just below your backyard.
- Recycling will help local industries grow and will also bring in more employment.
Also, there is 28 - 70 percent less energy consumption in producing recycled paper compared to virgin paper. There is also less water usage. This is because most of the energy used in papermaking is required for the pulping needed to turn wood into paper.
- There are fewer polluting emissions to air (95% of air pollution) and water from recycled paper production. Though recycled paper is not usually re-bleached, in case of re-bleaching oxygen rather than chlorine is usually used. This reduces the release of dioxins into the environment.
- About one-fifth of the contents of household dustbins consist of paper and cards, of which half is newspapers and magazines. This is equivalent to over 4 kg of waste paper per household in the UK each week. Click here for more on Environmental Benefits of Recycling Paper
Paper Recycling also addresses many environmental issues. Disposal problems are reduced by using waste paper to produce new paper. For every ton of paper used for recycling, the savings are --
- At least 30000 liters of water
- 3000-4000 KWh electricity (enough for an average 3-bedroom house for a year.
- 95% of air pollution
Everyday Use Papers Which Can be Recycled
- Office white paper
- Newspapers, magazines, telephone directories and pamphlets
- Mixed or colored paper
- Computer print out paper
Visit Recycler's World for a list of companies, associations and publications related to the waste paper recycling industry.
Recovered Paper Recycling
Industry and businesses provide almost half the amount of recovered paper in the form of cuttings/shavings and unsold newspapers/magazines. Households contribute over a third. Almost any household paper, including used newspapers, cardboard, packaging, stationery, direct mail, magazines, catalogues, greeting cards and wrapping paper, can be recycled. Recovered paper compares favorably with the production of wood-based pulp made by chemical or mechanical means in terms of environmental pollution and energy consumption.
Take a look at Semesta Recycling where a group of talented artisans produce handicrafts and home decoration items made of waste newspaper.
Recycling Milk and Juice Cartons Made From Paper
The milk and juice cartons that you normally throw in the waste-bin can also be recycled. Cartons are made from 75% paper, 20% plastic (polyethylene) and 5% aluminum foil. Because of this amalgamation of materials, they cannot be recycled along with ordinary paper. They can be reprocessed into other items or incinerated to produce energy.
Paper Recycling at Home
Now a paper recycling plant is available that enables you to recycle paper and make your own stationery or paper gift items at home. This technology is so uncomplicated that even a child can try his hand at it.
A few schools in Delhi, India, have installed this paper recycling plant where students are trained in making paper products like folders, penholders, material for display board, lampshades, teaching/learning aids, etc. This enables them to make their own cards, files, folders, invitation cards and certificates for school.
Environmental care now comes easy with Tara Mini Paper Recycling Plant
Tips for recycling paper at home
- Soak the shredded paper in water and keep it overnight.
- Apply a paste of fenugreek seeds and blend it in a mixer grinder. For color, add natural coloring agents like turmeric powder
- Put water in a pan with a wire-mesh inside.
- Pour a cup of the blended paper pulp over the mesh and spread it evenly.
- Lift the mesh and drain the water.
- Place the mesh on one side of an open newspaper and close the newspaper.
- Carefully flip the newspaper so that the mesh is on top of the pulp
- Press a flat wooden board on the newspaper to squeeze out water.
- Open the newspaper and take out the mesh.
- Keep the newspaper open for drying. Dried leaves and petals can be spread on the sheet while it is wet.
- Once dried, peel off the sheet from the newspaper.
- Lightly iron the sheet under a piece of moist muslin cloth.
For more details, see How to Recycle Old Paper at Home
From Scrap to Riches
Ms. Zhang Yin of China, who is known to be the world’s richest self-made woman and is worth an estimated $3.4bn, is said to have become rich by buying scrap paper from the US and processing it in China for sale. It is possible she may be using a good amount of the recycle bin papers from households in the West and converting them into new items which the western nations buy back.
Take a look at Paper Recycling Bins
Buy exquisite paperwork and useful pouches made from fabric scraps & recycled materials from
Did you know?
- China is the world's biggest consumer of waste paper and in the last four years has prevented 65 million metric tons of wastepaper from heading to landfills in the U.S., Japan, and Europe as it imports most of the wastepaper from these countries.
- There are paper products that cannot be either collected or recycled, like cigarette papers, wallpaper, tissue papers and archives, estimated to be about 19% of the total paper consumption.
- Recovered paper cannot be recycled forever as the fibres wear out so they can only be recycled five or six times.