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The Process of Recycling Paper

The process of recycling paper starts with the collection of used paper and generally takes up to a week to be turned into new usable paper products. Some local regions have paper and cardboard curbside recycling for their residents. However, if you live in an area that doesn't offer curbside paper recycling, you're responsible for having it collected or dropping it off at a local recycling center. Most businesses will be responsible for having their paper recyclables collected as well. Generally, this will be done by a waste management company such as Panda Environmental. If you're part of a business with recycling needs, feel free to check out our recycling services and waste removal services.

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The Paper Recycling Process


Once the paper has been collected, the process of recycling paper begins with turning the paper into pulp. This is the same process so-called "virgin" fibers go through in order to be turned into paper, but since recycled paper is being been used it must be cleaned and sorted first. 

In the first stage, a machine will chop up the paper into smaller bits to make it easier to fully saturate them. Once the paper has been cut down to the proper size it's added to a pulper where it is mixed with water in order to make a slurry. Next, it will be screened in order to remove any primary unwanted objects such as staples or plastics which may have been attached.

After many of the unwanted foreign materials have been removed, the papers will be cleaned. As mentioned on, these papers must often be de-inked since they have already been used.

How is paper de-inked?

Removing ink from paper is a very interesting process. Generally, there are two main processes used for de-inking paper. These are washing and floating.


In this method, the papers are placed into a large pulper which is filled with water where it is broken down into a slurry. Any missed staples or pieces of plastic which are present among the papers are removed during this process. In this process, most of the water, which contains the ink, is filtered through small screens, and often more water is added again afterward to remove even more ink from the slurry. This is a standard method, however, about 20% of the pulp is lost in this process.


Like with the washing method, the papers are once again made into a slurry through the process of placing them inside a large pulper filled with water. In this process, chemicals are added into the slurry which creates a sticky sort of froth at the top of the mix. Air bubbles are them blown throughout the pulp, which causes the ink to be carried to the surface where it will be trapped in the frothy layer. The layer at the top must be removed before the bubbles pop, however, or else the ink will find it's way back into the slurry. This method is more invasive than the washing method, however, somewhere between 90-95% of the pulp is retained from the recycled paper.

What happens after the paper is de-inked?

Once the paper has been properly de-inked the process of recycling the paper is almost complete! Different materials may be added into the slurry, depending on what the recycled paper will be made into. If it's being made into more sheets of white paper, bleach is often added to make sure it maintains a nice crisp white color.

At this point, the slurry has a paste-like consistency and is able to be rolled out into thin sheets before it is left to dry. Once it is dried it is rolled up on giant rollers and is shipped to a location where it will be cut into specific shapes and sizes.

Panda Environmental

Panda Environmental has strived to be a leader in the responsible waste management and recycling solutions across Ontario for over 15 years.  We are able to service all of your businesses waste and recycling handling needs, including hazardous waste. For a full list of our service areas, click here.  Click here for a list of all of the waste management and recycling solutions that we provide.

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