Recycling paper, plastic, cans etc is now part of our daily routine. It wasn't long ago that the popular print finish was with a matt or gloss lamination to give a more premium feel to your printed products. With the realisation of what plastic waste is doing to our oceans, and because of Covid-19 and the guidelines on single use menus etc, paper based products are now back in the game.
Most print companies, including ourselves, only use paper that is FSC certified. What does the FSC label mean? The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on a wood or wood based product is your assurance that it is made with, or contains, wood that comes from FSC certified forests or from post-consumer waste. There are three types of FSC label: 100%, FSC Mix or FSC Recycled.
So how is paper actually recycled? Once it is collected and taken to the recycling plant, it is separated into types and grades of paper. It is then 'de-inked' by washing it heavily, which also removes plastic film, staples and glue. Then the raw paper is put into a large holder where it is mixed with water to make a 'slurry', and by adding different materials, different paper products are made. It is then spread with large rollers to make thin sheets and then dried. Then it is ready to cut and pack.
Every year, 12.5 million tones of paper is used in the UK alone. It’s encouraging to note that, according to paper.org.uk, in 2019, we collected 3.1 million tonnes of paper and cardboard as a nation, and over 70% of the material used to create new paper came from recycled sources. By recycling, it helps protect trees, saves energy and reduces emissions.
According to a US university, for every tonne of recycled paper we produce, we save:
1,728 litres of oil
4,000 kilowatts of energy
31,823 litres of water
3 cubic metres of landfill
So, our efforts to recycle are having real-world benefits, not just for trees but for the environment as a whole.