Forest Products

Paper Recycling

What goes around, comes around, if you recycle. Old corrugated boxes and brown paper bags are recycled into new bags. Old newspapers may be used to make tissues or cardboard. Magazines are often recycled into newsprint.

How is paper recycled?
First, the used paper must be collected, sorted, baled and transported to the factory. You can help by carefully sorting your used paper. Be sure to separate different kinds of paper and to remove non-paper contaminants.

Next, the used paper is repulped. The bales are soaked in large vats of water until they break down into fibers. This soup of soggy fibers is called "pulp." Fresh pulp made from wood chips may also be added to strengthen the recycled paper.

Finally, the recycled and virgin fibers mat together to make paper as the water is removed. Recycled paper is used to make new products.

Paper bag recycling closes the loop!
Because recycled paper bags are made back into the same product, delivering new bags and collecting recycled bags can be done in one trip. When a truck delivers grocery bags to the store, it exchanges its empty trailer for a full trailer of used bags and boxes. This trailer of used paper is transported to the paper mill and exchanged for a trailer with rolls of recycled paper. To close the loop, the rolls of paper are taken to the bag factory and exchanged for a new load of paper bags.

Why recycle?

Here is a video of paper bags being recycled, in QuickTime (1.3M) or RealVideo (93k) format.

Recycled paper uses less energy, less water and produces less pollution than virgin paper. Recycling paper also saves landfill space and reuses wood fiber. Paper can be recycled 5 to 8 times before the fibers in the paper become too short and weak to be reused.

Video footage courtesy of KGW NewsChannel 8.

Paper or Plastic?
Which bag is the best choice? Take our quiz to find out.

Question One: Which bag is made from a renewable resource?

A) Paper

B) Plastic

C) Both

D) Neither

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