Have you ever wondered what happens after our trucks pick up your recycling?
All of your mixed/commingled recyclables (paper & cardboard, aluminium & steel cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles & cups) are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where a combination of mechanical (e.g. weight, magnets, air) and manual sorting processes separate the different waste streams. Click here to read more about the MRF process. Over the coming posts we will investigate what happens to all of these waste streams after they leave the MRF.
Let’s start off with recycling paper and cardboard:
Recycling paper and cardboard – the process
Paper and cardboard bales are sent to a paper mill where the recycling process begins.
- Upon arrival at the facility the paper is sorted depending on the grade of paper.
- From here we move into the re-pulping and screening process whereby the paper is put into a large vat which contains water and chemicals which break up the fibres to create pulp.
- The pulp is then cleaned by mechanically spinning it around in cylinders.
- The deinking process is next. Air and soap-like chemicals are injected into the pulp which removes the ink and other residues.
- The pulp is then poured out to dry onto a screen where the fibres bond together as the water drains off. Rollers squeeze out any remaining water.
- The paper is then rolled and ready to be re-manufactured into other products for example office paper, packaging, toilet paper and egg cartons. The waste products (sludge) may be sent to landfill, burnt for energy or used as fertiliser.
Paper can be recycled up to seven times! After it has been recycled as many times as possible it can be broken down as organic waste.
Secure paper collections
If you have a secure paper collection in place these containers are taken in to an accredited and secure location where they are shredded through a large industrial shredding machine. After the shredding process is complete the paper moves on to be recycled.
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