How is paper recycled?

Recycling paper is an essential practice to reduce the impact of waste on our environment. It saves trees, energy, and water, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The process of recycling paper is an intricate one that involves several steps. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating process of how paper is recycled.

Step 1: Collection

The first step in the recycling process is the collection of paper. This can be done in several ways, including curbside collection of household waste, drop-off points, and commercial waste collection. Once collected, the paper is transported to a recycling facility.

Step 2: Sorting

Once the paper arrives at the recycling facility, it is sorted into different categories. This is done to ensure that the paper is of the same quality and consistency. The sorting process involves removing any contaminants, such as staples, paper clips, and plastic, which can damage the equipment used in the recycling process.

Step 3: Shredding and Pulping

After sorting, the paper is shredded into tiny pieces and mixed with water to create a slurry. The slurry is then heated to break down the paper fibers and create a pulp. During this process, any remaining contaminants are removed.

Step 4: Screening and Cleaning

Once the pulp is created, it is screened to remove any remaining debris. The pulp is then cleaned to remove any ink or other contaminants. This is done using a series of chemicals and filters to ensure that the pulp is of high quality.

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Step 5: De-inking

If the paper is to be used for printing, it must be de-inked. This is done using a process known as flotation de-inking. The pulp is mixed with water and chemicals, and air is bubbled through the mixture. This causes the ink to rise to the surface, where it can be skimmed off.

Step 6: Bleaching

Once the paper has been de-inked, it is bleached to remove any remaining color. This is done using a series of chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide and chlorine dioxide. The bleaching process also helps to strengthen the paper fibers.

Step 7: Finishing

Finally, the pulp is ready to be turned into paper. The pulp is mixed with water and poured onto a wire mesh screen. The water is then drained away, leaving a sheet of wet paper. The paper is then pressed and dried to remove any remaining water.


Recycling paper is a complex process that involves several steps. From collection to finishing, each step is essential to creating high-quality recycled paper. By recycling paper, we can reduce waste, save energy, and help protect the environment.