Making paper from waste paper seldom requires chemical pre-treatment. Waste paper is mixed with water in a giant blender and converted into a thin slurry. Good screening ensures that contaminants such as plastic, staples and paper clips are removed. The slurry is then made into paper the same way as paper is made from trees. Waste paper suitable for recycling must be easily collected, similar in type, clean and uncontaminated by food or plastics. Most paper is recycled into paperboard for packaging, with some being made into tissues and toilet paper. Making paper from waste paper instead of trees reduces energy use by 64%, reduces air and water pollution by up to 60%, and requires only half the water needed to make the product from virgin pulp. For every one tonne of paper recycled: At least 15 trees; 31, 780 litres of water; 2.5 barrels of oil; 4 cubic metres of landfill space, and 4100 kWh of electricity is conserved.
Recycling in New Zealand
Flattening cardboard and placing in cardboard cages or baling onsite is an easy way to recycle and reduce waste costs.
- Making paper is fun and easy, and doesn’t take many tools.
- Paper Mache is a great way to reuse paper. You can make your own glue and let your imagination run wild.
Process for making paper
Paper and cardboard is made from the pulped, pressed and dried out fibres of wood. Most paper products made in New Zealand come from renewable pulp trees, grown specifically for paper. From planting to maturity, these trees take about 20 years to grow.
- Wood chips are treated mechanically or chemically to release the fibres, resulting in a pulp
- Pulp is mixed with water to form a slurry
- The slurry passes over a series of meshes that separate the water, leaving fibre behind.
- The damp fibres pass through rollers that flatten and dry it.
- The paper is rolled onto huge reels, which can later be cut to the right size and shape.
In contrast, this video shows paper made by hand at a factory in India.
Major Environmental Effects
Production of paper from trees takes more than you think...
Making 1 kg of paper takes
- 2.7 kg of wood chips
- 130g of calcium carbonate
- 85g sulphur
- 40g chorine (to bleach),
- and 300 litres of water.
Major Environmental Benefits
Money does grow on trees - find out more about the environmental, economic and social benefits of trees.
According to one calculation, a typical tree provides US$196,250.00 (1999) worth of ecological benefits during its lifetime, in the form of oxygen, air purification, soil fertility and erosion control, water recycling and humidity control and wildlife habitats. Sold as timber, the same tree is worth about US$590.00.
Way back when.. the history of paper
The word paper comes from the Egyptian word papyrus, which is the reed from which paper was originally made over 2,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese also made paper, from rags and the bark of the mulberry tree. Until the Industrial Revolution, most paper was made from a mixture of linen rags, straw and grasses such as hemp. As demand for paper grew, along with mechanised paper-making machines, wood chips became the main source of fibre.