Paper – how it’s recycled
We use paper every day and as a nation 12.5 million tonnes is used each year.
Paper is collected either at local recycling sites or more usually by a local authority recycling collection. The paper is graded into different qualities.
At the paper mill it is pulped in a tank containing chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, caustic soda, soap and water which separate out the various fibres.
These fibres are then screened to remove various bits of debris such as paper clips, staples, sticky tape and plastic.
In a floatation tank the fibres are cleaned and deinked several times and as a result the fibres get whiter and whiter. Whitening agents are added at this stage and the pulp, which is 99% water and 1% fibre is then pumped onto a paper machine.
It is then passed over a vibrating machine or through rollers which remove most of the water. The water is sent back to the beginning of the process, the remaining material now contains half fibre and half water.
The sheets are then passed through a drying section on heated rollers where the temperature reaches 130 degrees and water is reduced by 5%. The process makes the paper whiter, smoother and more useable.
The paper is then dried and then run through a machine that acts like an ironing board and then wound into huge rolls that weigh up to 30 tonnes.
The paper is then tested to make sure it reaches the correct standard and quality for strength, gloss and brightness.
These rolls are then divided into smaller reels or sheets, packed and stored before despatching to printers.
The quality of paper produced through our recycled paper is comparable to that made from virgin raw material.