Paper at the Dawn—and Heart—of Recycling
As the most widely and efficiently recycled product on the planet, paper plays a major role in the story of modern recycling. While reusing goods like linens and durable equipment was common in the US dating back to its colonial days, larger scale recycling efforts only began during the difficult years of World War II. Needing every ounce of raw materials for the war effort, the US government encouraged citizens to recycle paper, metal cans, clothing and rubber at government provided recycling centers.
After the war, recycling continued to grow in popularity and by the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970, recycling was a nationwide practice. Today, recycling is widely practiced with paper consistently one of the most recycled materials. In 2020 the recycling recovery rate for all paper products was 65.7% with corrugated boxes recycled at rates as high as 88%.
The Value of Recycled Paper
Paper is especially noteworthy in recycling due to its high rates of recycling as well as its retained value as a recycled product. For instance, as much as 96% of corrugated paper in the US is recycled. And consumers not only do not mind using recycled paper products, in many cases, such as in packaging, they actually prefer it.
At the mills, the recycled paper products are re-pulped, cleaned to remove contaminants (which sometimes include inks and coatings), and made again into prime paper. These prime recycled papers are used to make new corrugated boxes, paper bags, napkins or other tissue products, copy paper, newspapers, books, or magazines, closing the loop to conserve resources while reducing the potential waste stream and its environmental impacts.
NORPAC’s Paper Recycling Operations
At NORPAC, recycling is integral to our manufacturing operations as well as the right thing to do. Our paper recycling infrastructure is one of the largest and most extensive West of the Mississippi. We collect and recycle hundreds of thousands of tons of wastepaper each year and have steadily increased our yearly production.
To ensure we remain a leader in sustainability and innovation, we have recently invested significant capital into our recycling plant and equipment. In 2021 we began installation of a new, state-of-the-art drum pulper that will increase our ability to transform mixed wastepaper into lightweight recycled packaging papers. The new drum pulper will help keep even more waste out of landfills, turning that waste back into usable paper products.
As a result of our intense recycling focus, NORPAC provides customers a variety of papers that rank among the most sustainable and environmentally friendly on the market. They can also be fully recycled again to provide raw materials to our own mill and others.
NORPAC’s commitment to sustainability goes well beyond recycling to also address concerns about healthy water, healthy forests, and a healthy climate. For instance, the process we use to make recycled containerboard results in 82% fewer carbon emissions than most competing products. Similarly, our Natural Choice copy paper uses 47% less water in its production and results in 44% fewer CO2 emissions than competing products from other mills.
We believe that the recycling of paper is not just good business, but also good for people and our planet by reducing the carbon footprint for producing products used in our everyday life.
For more information about our products, our recycling expertise, or our other environmental commitments, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.