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Your ultimate guide to recycled paper. We delve into the recycling process, to answer any questions you might have on paper recycling and dispel any myths which might prevent you from recycling in the future.

As you sit on the tube or bus this morning and look around at the silent faces of commuters staring blankly into the Metro. It might dawn on you the scale of paper usage in the UK. Every year we use almost 10 million tonnes of paper, with around 80% being recycled. Although this sounds like a lot, it means that 2 million tonnes of paper is sent to incineration or landfill every year, requiring more trees to be felled to fill the gap. 

At Bywaters, we believe that education is fundamental to ensuring that this gap is reduced. So how much do you really know about recycled paper? In this blog aim to bridge the knowledge gap. Read on to become an expert on recycled paper!

How is paper made

Before looking at paper recycling, first it is important to understand the process involved in creating “virgin paper”. Fundamentally, paper is a dried compressed sheet of plant fibres, matted together under pressure, causing the fibres to form strong but flexible bonds. 

Most paper is made from trees, with large quantities of logs (generally quick growing conifers) transferred to industrial processing plants, pulped with water and sometimes chemicals. This pulp is meshed, screened and dried, leaving paper! This process makes the many grades of paper and cardboard available today. 

The benefits of recycling paper?

It’s so easy to make paper, that you can do it yourself by hand at home. But if it is that easy to make, then why bother recycling it? Well, the answer is simple. There are tremendous environmental benefits associated with recycling paper, including:

  • It takes 70% less energy to recycle paper than to create virgin paper from trees.
  • For every ton of recycled paper produced, between 17 and 31 trees would be saved.
  • Recycling paper can save 80% of the water associated with virgin production.

With a growing focus on environmental actions, and our impact on climate change, small changes to consumer habits can have a big effect. Recycling more paper globally would have a significant impact on worldwide environmental targets. 

How is paper recycled?

Having understood why paper should be recycled, the question is, how is used paper transformed back into clean, functional products for us to use? With Bywaters, it’s simple really… 

  • We will collect paper from clients sites, either separately or within Dry Mixed Recycling.
  • This material is taken back to our state-of-the art MRF where we sort the paper into different grades and types. 
  • At Bywaters our process ensures the highest quality material is separated and transported to reprocessors.
  • To remove contaminants, including, glue, plastic and staples, the paper is washed in warm soapy water. This material is then transported to a large container where it is mixed with water to form a slurry.
  • A variety of materials can be added to the slurry to form a range of products, including cardboard.
  • This pulp is meshed, screened and dried, leaving paper! This process makes the many grades of recycled paper and cardboard available today.

Unlike metals and glass, paper can’t be recycled over and over an infinite number of times. Every time paper is recycled, the plant fibres get shorter until the paper can no longer be recycled. But that is no reason not to recycle!

How Bywaters can help

We have been specialising in sorting paper for recycling for decades, and have refined our process to provide the best product possible to reprocessors. If you produce paper at your site, we can provide you with the best recycling solution possible to ensure your recyclables avoid incineration or landfill.


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