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Recycling paper is one of the most vital means of environmental conservation. It ensures a clean and safe environment. While some people are encouraged and would like to recycle paper, most do not know how it can be done. There are both domestic and commercial means of recycling paper.
It is recommended that you start by recycling a few paper materials at home. Overall, the process is straightforward and doable. In this article, we will describe how to recycle paper at home and how paper is recycled in most of the recycling units in the country.
Ways To Reuse Paper
First, here are some great uses for paper recycled at home or old paper materials:
Mulching or Compost
Paper materials form vital components of manure. You can either use paper materials for mulching or building a compost heap. Paper is easily decomposable, thus making it a good ingredient for a compost heap. This is one of the best uses of recycled paper as you easily add nutrients to the garden.
Are you worried about dust making your window glass surfaces look unattractive? Newspapers are actually remarkable for cleaning windows. Many people have revealed that newspapers are even more effective than microfiber cloths in cleaning window glass surfaces. So, instead of throwing those old newspapers away, why not make your windows shiny and streak-free?
You could also use paper materials to pack items. If you are considering moving out, old paper materials could help you save on packing costs, especially if your chosen moving company offers packing services at an additional price. Similarly, whether you want to send your friend a few gifts, or maybe you want to store some of your items, you could use old paper materials for packaging.
You can use old paper materials or recycled paper for the wrapping of other items. If it is a present for your friend, it is best to add some design to the paper, showing you put some thought into it. This method is more economical and eco-friendly. It also poses no harm to you, your family, or your friend who is receiving the gift. In fact, all it does is bring more joy and creativity.
Aim for zero waste and use old paper materials in your drawers and cabinets rather than throwing them out. You can use the old newspapers by spreading them in your drawers and cabinets before putting your clothes or cutlery in the drawers. Similarly, you can use newspapers in the boot of your car to absorb moisture and bad smells. They could also be effective in your fridge to keep your fruits safe and in a good state.
Did you know you can use old egg cartons for storage purposes? They can act as safe storage spaces for items such as jewellery, buttons, and pins!
Domestic Recycling Of Paper
Most people think that recycling paper to produce newly processed paper can only be done in large companies for commercial purposes. However, the truth is that you can easily recycle old paper materials at home and manually process them into new paper. The process is less technical and costs less than commercial recycling of paper.
However, the process is small-scale and produces low-quality paper compared to commercially recycled paper. So, what do you need for domestic recycling of paper?
• Waste paper (of course)
• Enough water
• Food processor or a blender
• Screen or mesh with a frame
• Wood frame
• Rectangular bin larger than the frame
• Piece of cloth or sponge
• Decorations of your choice
Step One: Tear the paper into pieces
First, begin by tearing the waste paper into tiny pieces. Next, pour hot water into your blender and add the torn pieces of paper. If you want to produce coloured paper, then it is best to add bits of coloured paper at this point. Blend the materials until it forms a smooth pulp.
Step Two: Assemble all the other materials
Then, using duct tape, pins, or any other relevant material, fix the first screen onto the edges of the frame. Ensure that the screen is adequately affixed to the frame.
Step Three: Place the mould into a pan of water
Once you have the mould readily prepared, put it into a pan of water, then pour your paper pulp into it. Add enough pulp such that when you lift the mould up, the pulp covers the screen. This is also the time where you can add decorations like paint and flowers. If you desire to produce plantable paper, you can add seeds at this point.
Step Four: Lift the mould out of the water
After that, lift the mould out of the water. Then, place the second screen on top of the pulp. You should ensure that there is no excess water by pressing it out using a piece of cloth or a sponge.
Step Five: Invert the screen on a towel
At this stage, when you now lift the screen, the paper should be raised with it. Invert the screen on a towel while ensuring that the pulp side faces down. To remove excess water, press the sponge or piece of cloth on the side of the screen.
Step Six: Lift the screen off the paper
Finally, lift the screen off the paper, station your paper nicely on the towel and allow it to dry. However, if you want it to dry faster, you could air dry it or place a paper towel over it, then gently press it with an iron.
Commercial Recycling Of Paper
Due to the increased urgency of environmental protection, many companies have been established primarily for paper recycling. These companies engage in the use of technology to facilitate large-scale paper and cardboard recycling. They also use chemicals for better results of the newly processed paper.
Commercial recycling of paper is more technical and intense than the domestic process of recycling paper. How then is commercial paper recycling done? Let’s get right into it!
Step One: Collection and Transportation
This is the first line of operation when recycling paper. The most significant activity is collecting recyclable papers. Various places are likely to have deposits or piles of recyclable paper and cardboard (which make up one category of waste streams). Such places could be homes, offices, along the streets, etc.
For commercial paper recycling, recycling companies could employ recyclers or paper merchants to collect the paper from such places or even from sites that produce waste paper. In most scenarios, the recyclers or the paper merchants collect the paper materials into containers referred to as recycling bins. After that, all the paper materials collected in various recycle bins are put into a large recycling container.
Before the paper materials are finally moved to the next recycling step, they are weighed, measured, and evaluated for quality purposes. Then, the paper materials are transferred into a recycling plant, ready for the next step.
Step Two: Sorting and Separation
This process primarily takes place in the recycling plant. The sorting of the collected paper materials enables the recyclers to identify the recyclable papers and the non-recyclable ones. Similarly, this process facilitates the removal of non-paper materials that may have been collected together with the paper. Furthermore, by assessing the materials used to manufacture the particular paper, the paper materials are sorted according to their value and quantity.
The most significant considerations during the assessments are the structure and surface treatment of the paper materials. For instance, heavier and thicker paper materials such as paper mills are sorted and separated from lighter ones used to manufacture newspapers. This separation is necessary since different types of the paper produce different results.
Step Three: Shredding and Pulping
The next step after sorting and separating the paper materials is shredding, followed by the pulping process. To begin with, shredding is necessary to break down the paper materials into smaller pieces which can easily be mixed with water and chemicals for further disintegration.
This initial process facilitates pulping, which involves turning the paper materials into a slurry. Generally, the pulping process consists adding water and chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and caustic soda to break down the paper materials into fine particles. The method also primarily involves the use of a recycling puller to heat the paper materials.
Step Four: Screening
At this moment, for better results, it's essential to remove any contaminants and unwanted objects from the pulpy mass. Therefore, the pulpy mass is passed through various screens that have holes of different sizes and shapes. This facilitates the removal of unwanted items and the contaminants present in the shredded and pulped mass of paper.
Step Five: Removal of Ink
This, unlike other processes, is not mandatory. It is only essential if the paper material has ink, glue, or adhesives in it. If it does, then it is vital to remove all that before proceeding to the next step. These substances are removed through the passing of the paper pulp through several screens, which facilitate the removal of larger contaminants.
After that, the paper pulp is mixed with new pulp, enabling the slurry paper materials to solidify and become more firm. The subsequent step involves the transfer of the pulp free from contamination through a machine with a centrifugal cleaning system for the removal of debris.
Step Six: Filtration
The next step is advanced filtration. This process allows for the removal of non-fibrous materials that may be present in the slurry paper substance. Any other foreign matter such as debris, ink, grime, or glue will also be eliminated at this stage. Heavy materials such as metallic particles drop to the bottom during the filtration process, where they are removed while the lighter materials float on top.
Generally, the removal of ink is done in two steps. The first step involves washing and rinsing the paper pulp using sufficient water. Then, for minor ink stains, chemical substances may be used to remove the ink. In contrast, the paper pulp is taken through the flotation process if the ink stain is large. Flotation involves the use of air bubbles to remove the ink stains. The ink particles and other foreign matter will get glued to the air bubbles enabling easy removal.
Step Seven: Bleaching
If you want to produce cardboard by the end of the recycling process, you may not need this step. However, if you intend to make white paper at the end of recycling, bleaching becomes a very critical step. Primarily, most companies prefer using hydrogen peroxide to improve the paper's brightness, whiteness, and purity. However, you can use either chlorine dioxide or oxygen to achieve similar results.
Sometimes, the paper materials being recycled may have colouring substances that you may want to remove. If that is the case, decolourising agents need to be applied against the fibres to remove the dyes and produce white paper at the end.
Step Eight: Rolling
This is the final stage in the paper recycling process. It involves preparing the paper pulp for the processing of new paper. Since this process requires treatment with hot water and chemicals, it is essential to be very cautious. You need to ensure that the hot water that you add is more than the quantity of the chemicals and the pulp.
The mixture is then poured into a machine with press rollers that remove all moisture from the paper pulp. After that, the paper pulp is passed through a heated metal roller to dry it thoroughly. After the paper pulp is dried, it is mixed with new production substances. Then it is transferred over to a conveyor belt and heated cylindrical surfaces to dry. As it is passed through an automated machine, all the excess water is removed.
Once the pulp turns solid, it is passed through a steam-heated cylinder to enable the formation of flattened long-roll paper. At this moment, you now have fully processed paper that you can cut into any shape and size.
Types Of Recyclable Paper
• Cardboard boxes
• Brown paper
• Printer paper
• Glossy magazines
• Cereal boxes
Types Of Non-Recyclable Paper
• Parchment paper
• Butcher paper
• Wax paper
• Paper cups
• Milk cartons
• Paper towels and napkins
Start Recycling Paper Today!
Recycling paper is not only environmentally friendly but also economical. You stand to save some extra cash by recycling paper since you will need to buy less. As you have seen, it is possible to recycle paper domestically using readily available materials with no chemicals at all! However, whether you are carrying out domestic or commercial recycling of paper, it is best to ensure that your recycling bin is entirely contamination-free.
Food substances or drinks like beer on paper can easily make the paper unrecyclable. To prevent this, ensure that all the bottles are empty and the food cans are rinsed first. Don’t hesitate to start recycling your paper. Moreover, you can seek out the advice of professionals to assist you with all your paper recycling needs. These professionals are equipped with the means and know-how to get the job done right.