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EarthAnswers - How is Paper Recycled?

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Can all of my recovered paper be recycled?

As much as 80% of the content of typical recovered paper can actually be used in the recycling process, but 20% cannot. A lot of what's contained in a bale of recovered "paper" isn't paper! Trash, such as wire, staples, paper clips, and plastic, must be removed during pulping, cleaning, and screening. This trash is usually sent to a landfill, just like your trash at home.

Recovered paper contains some fibers which have become too small to be recycled into paper. Your recovered paper may contain fibers which already have been recycled one, twice, or perhaps several times! Wood fibers can only be recycled five to seven times before they become too short and brittle to be made into new paper.

Recovered paper contains many other ingredients which are not paper fibers. Just take a look at a magazine and you'll see what we mean. The printed pages contain lots of ink. If the pages are shiny, that portably means they are coated with clay or other materials. Magazines also contain adhesives which bind the pages together. Ink, coatings, and adhesives must be removed from the paper before recycled paper can be produced.

 

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