Everyone knows that paper can be recycled; it’s a big part of what makes Paper Bag Co such an eco-friendly company. That said, not many people know exactly what happens to paper once you drop it off in a recycling bin. We thought we’d clear that up for you.
First off, your paper is taken from the bin or recycling plant where you left it, then transported to a special paper mill which is able to repurpose it. The first thing that must happen to your paper when it arrives is a cleaning away of impurities. This is why it will be dumped straight into the pulper. Essentially, this is a large drum that uses long arms known as baffles to spin the paper around within a huge vat of water. This process also removes ink, plastic films, and glue.
As it is swirled around, the paper begins to dissolve into the water. The resultant mix of 10% paper and 90% water is known as paper slurry.
Once your paper has been turned into slurry, it is passed through a series of dense screens in order to filter out any bulkier contaminants, including items such as paper clips and other pieces of metal and wood. Once removed, these contaminants are sent to landfill, or sometimes recycled themselves in separate facilities if made of a suitable material.
Contaminant-free, the paper slurry can now be used in the creation of new paper products. There are many options, and adding different materials to the slurry changes the end result; recycling plants can make anything from cardboard to newspaper by adding the right materials to the slurry.
Once a decision has been made, the slurry is spread into large thin sheets by specialised rollers, then left to dry. It is now ready to be rolled up or cut to size, then delivered back to the people who need it.
This is a long process, so we’re all lucky that all we need to do to play our part is see that paper products are recycled instead of being taken to landfill.