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September 11, 2009

How is Paper Recycled?

According to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), 55 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2007. This significant achievement was made possible by the millions of Americans who recycle at home, work, and school every day.
In fact, if measured by weight, more paper is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than all glass, plastic and aluminum combined. Additional good news: every ton of paper recovered for recycling saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.

Paper Recycling Starts with Us
Paper recycling begins with you and me. The paper recycling process begins at any number of locations, including community curbside programs, drop-off centers, schools or offices. Regardless of where the recycling process starts, it is important to understand what materials can be recovered in your community and how to properly prepare them for recycling.

How Is Paper Recycled Once Collected?
After it is collected, recovered paper is transferred to a recycling center, or Material Recovery Facility (MRF), where it is sorted into its different grades and “contaminants” such as trash, glass, plastics and metals are removed. Once the recovered paper is properly sorted and free of contaminants, it is compacted into large bales and transported to a paper mill where the recycling process begins.
To begin the papermaking process using recovered fiber, the fiber is shredded and mixed with water to make a pulp. The pulp is washed, refined and cleaned, then turned to slush in a beater. The process of papermaking from that point forward is essentially the same whether or not recovered fiber is used.

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