How is paper & cardboard recycled? - Pink Bins

Have you ever wondered what happens to your waste paper and cardboard? Well, hopefully, it gets recycled.

At Pink Bins, we take recycling seriously. So, we recycle paper and cardboard as well as many other materials including timber, metal and e-waste.

In this post, we explain what happens to your paper and cardboard after we pick it up. If you find this post useful, please share. We welcome your comments.

Why recycle?

Recycling is good for the planet. Basically, the more businesses recycle the fewer natural resources are needed to make new products. So, in the case of cardboard, it means fewer trees need to be cut down.

There is also a financial benefit because taking waste to landfill is expensive. So, the more we recycle, the less we need to use them. And the cost of using landfills is likely to increase — though expensive in New Zealand ($10 per tonne), the cost is still about 15 times cheaper than in Britain.

So, what happens?

After we pick up your bin, it is taken to our recycling plant in Manukau, South Auckland. There we have a team of eight on hand to sort through your waste to find recyclable materials.

We don’t recycle the waste in-house. Instead, we store it before sending it to third-party recyclers. All paper and cardboard is sent to Full Circle Recycling.

About 85% of what Full Circle collects is recycled in New Zealand. The remainder is contaminated with substances that can’t be filtered out in New Zealand (water-resistant waxes and PE coatings, for example) and shipped overseas for recycling.

So, what happens at the mill?

At the mill, paper and cardboard is fed into, what’s known as, a ‘pulper.’ A pulper is basically a large drum that spins the paper and cardboard in water to create slurry. Contaminants are then removed from the slurry by passing it through a number of screens.  Next, the slurry is fed into a soak tank. The soak tank contains high-density cleaners for removing contaminants like adhesives, plastic from window envelopes and rubber bands. Then the slurry goes through a finer series of screens before being subjected to more cleaning as well as de-inking and whitening.

Pulp quality varies. The best is used for products like office and fine papers. The lower-grade pulp gets ear marked for products like tissue paper.

What do you think?

We hope you found this post useful. If so, please share. Your comments are welcome.