Recycling Newspapers

You may have wondered what happens to your newspaper once you’ve finished reading it and popped it into a recycling bin.

What is the recycling process, and how long does it take?

Old Newspapers
Photo: Charles Starrett

It might surprise you to learn that, a week after you’ve disposed of it, it could be back in your hands!

The way we recycle paper has been continually refined and improved over the years, and it can now take less than a week for a paper to be transformed into recycled newsprint.

In that time, it is sorted and graded before being taken to a paper mill.

Once there, it is turned into pulp by using paper shredders and adding water. The paper is then cleaned, and the ink removed to turn it back into plain paper. There is also a filtering process which removes things that might be attached to the newspapers, like staples.

The final process is to turn it into a specific product, whether tissue, cardboard, newsprint or packaging.

It is some years now since the newspaper industry woke up to the fact that they needed to recycle paper. All the newsprint now manufactured in the UK is made from 100 per cent recycled paper.

A decade ago, many of the regional and national newspapers were broadsheet, but the industry has changed since then and virtually all papers are now tabloid, reducing the amount of newsprint needed.

Using shredders first to reduce the paper then recycling will mean one ton of newspaper saves around one tonne of wood, so from an environmental point of view it clearly makes sense.

The UK chapter of Friends of the Earth states that wood fibre can be recycled up to five times before it degrades too much to be used. So even though recycling is an accepted part of the newspaper industry, a certain amount of new wood is needed each year globally.


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