People in record numbers are recycling paper at work and at home. Last year, in fact, 20 million tons of paper were recycled—a big increase from the previous year. Paper recycling has now become an important part of the daily lives of many Americans.
Believe it or not, paper recycling has even become a big business. Today, industry recycles paper not just because it is a good thing to do, but because it makes good business sense. Since Americans throw away more paper than anything else, there is a lot to be gained by recycling paper. For example, Fort Howard Corporation of Green Bay, Wisconsin, produces tissue made entirely of recycled paper. Foreign countries are even buying our paper waste. If you see a MADE IN TAIWAN tag on a paper product, at another time it was probably a newspaper in America. Taiwan buys all of its paper from the United States.
The process of paper recycling is a simple one. First, paper is collected and sorted. Recyclable paper includes typing paper, newspaper, cardboard, scrap paper, index cards, and computer printouts. This recyclable paper is dumped into a vat of water and chemicals. A large spinning blade mixes the paper to a pulp. This pulp is dried on screens, and the new paper is formed on cylinders. Newspapers, cereal and shoe boxes, toilet tissue, paper towels, building insulation, egg cartons, and even livestock bedding are made from recycled paper.
Not all types of paper can be recycled. Most recycling equipment cannot handle envelopes, carbon paper, glossy paper, photographs, or paper with scotch tape, glue, or staples in it. These types of paper must be sorted out. However, new equipment is being developed now to work with these items. For example, equipment is almost ready to remove ink from glossy magazine and catalog paper so that it can be recycled.
Although landfills are still filling up with waste, recycling is becoming a success story. About 40 percent of plastics, 45 percent of paper, and 60 percent of aluminum are recycled. Thousands of community programs are in place to recycle paper products. Big business has discovered the advantages of making paper products that can be reused many times. People seem to realize that recycling is the right thing to do to help clean up America and make it a better place to live.
Paper Recycling by Thoughtful Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at k12.thoughtfullearning.com/assessmentmodels/paper-recycling.