One of the first recyclable materials, paper products continue to be the most accessible and most commonly found recycled products. The technology for recycling cardboard, newspaper and magazines has continued to improve over the decades, but the process remains essentially the same for all paper products and types.
Collecting and Sorting
The first step to recycling paper products is to collect and sort them. Collapsed boxes and paper products are sorted by type and put into a machine to compress and bind them into bales. Some waste management companies have recycling machinery on-site, while others transport the bales to another facility.
Pulping and Filtering
Once the paper products have been sorted, they are put into a tub and saturated with water to pulp them. Some facilities will add chemicals to aid the pulping process, and dual shaft blenders break apart larger pieces as the pulp is mixed. Filters pull out foreign items such as glue and tape as the pulp is moved to the next step in the recycling process.
De-Inking and Finishing
Since most cardboard and other paper products have printing on the surface, de-inking chemicals are added to prep for different colors in the future. In the finishing phase of this process, the pulp is shaped into the final form of the needed items and new paper-making materials are added to help the fibers bond together and give it the desired color and texture. Conveyor belts move the pulp through shaping and drying machines before taking the new paper to cutting and packaging areas.
You can recycle more varieties of paper products now than in the past. Still, the process of turning used boxes, newspapers and documents into new paper and cardboard items is primarily the same as it has always been. Used and discarded items are collected and sorted by type, then put into a tub with water and blending shafts to be turned into pulp. The pulp is filtered, de-inked and mixed with fresh paper-making materials before being dried, cut and packaged for use.