Turning Recycled Pulp into Paper
Now the clean pulp from recovered paper is ready to be made into new paper products. The recycled ﬁber can be used alone, or blended with new wood ﬁber (called virgin ﬁber) to give it extra strength or smoothness.
The pulp is mixed with water and chemicals to make it 99.5% water. This watery pulp mixture enters the headbox, a giant metal box at the beginning of the paper machine, and then is sprayed in a continuous wide jet onto a huge ﬂ at wire screen which is moving very quickly through the paper machine.
On the screen, water starts to drain from the pulp, and the recycled ﬁbers quickly begin to bond together to form a watery sheet. The sheet moves rapidly through a series of felt-covered press rollers which squeeze out more water.
The sheet, which now resembles paper, passes through a series of heated metal rollers which dry the paper. If coated paper is being made, a coating mixture can be applied near the end of the process, or in a separate process after the papermaking is completed. Coating gives paper a smooth, glossy surface for printing.
Finally, the ﬁnished paper is wound into a giant roll and removed from the paper machine. One roll can be as wide as 30 feet and weigh as much as 20 tons! The roll of paper is cut into smaller rolls, or sometimes into sheets, before being shipped to a converting plant where it will be printed or made into products such as envelopes, paper bags, or boxes.
Most recovered paper is recycled back into paper and paperboard products. With a few exceptions, recovered paper is generally recycled into a grade similar to, or of lower quality than, the grade of the original product. For example, old corrugated boxes are used to make new recycled corrugated boxes. Recovered printing and writing paper can be used to make new recycled copy paper.
Recovered paper can be used in a variety of other products as well. Recycled pulp can be molded into egg cartons and fruit trays. Recovered paper can be used for fuel, ceiling and wall insulation, paint ﬁller, and rooﬁng. Nearly 100,000 tons of shredded paper is used each year for animal bedding.