In today’s world, we are all aware of the need to save the environment. Many of us have been a part of efforts to conserve important resources such as forests and clean water. You may want to take things a step further and become more involved by running a paper recycling business.
According to the American Forest & Paper Association, over 60% of paper products are recovered annually, with a total of over 68 million tons – over a third of all recovered recyclable materials by weight. A target of 70% recovery has been set, and over 70% of households have access to a full or partial curbside recycling service.
Recycling paper is important as it reduces the demand for cutting down trees, is more energy-efficient, and involves fewer carbon emissions. It also keeps paper products out of landfills for 5-7 cycles (after which the fibers are too short to make further paper products).
Because of how vital our paper recycling industry has become, starting a small scale recycling plant can be a great idea for a small business. However, it is important to operate with the best practices. Any ecologically harmful or inefficient operations would defeat the purpose of recycling which is to conserve our environment.
One of the most important considerations is your community. Have local authorities established collection methods that make it easy for citizens to dispose of their paper wastes properly? The less effort involved, the more paper can be collected.
Determine the most optimal route for collection, and employ a truck with a compactor. Doing so will minimize the number of collection trips, and distance traveled, saving on gas and reducing environmental impact.
You can also help create opportunities for volunteer work to make a difference. Participate in, or organize, community events where kids and adults help in collecting and sorting paper products. Involving people is a purpose-giving activity that raises awareness of the importance of recycling, and simultaneously uses human energy instead of machinery and gas.
A lot of water is used in the process of paper production. Conventional or virgin paper manufacturing requires around 40 cubic meters per ton of paper. Recycling saves water by around 47% in the production process – but that is still around 24 cubic meters per ton.
The good news is that much of the wastewater involved in recycling paper can be immediately fed back into the process and reused. Further loss of water in your recycling operations can be avoided bymonitoring water flow with an electronic sensor – this will alert you to possible leaks, spillage, and accidental discharge, indicating the need to repair or replace tanks, nozzles or sealant.
Eventually, wastewater can no longer be fed back into the recycling process due to the amount of suspended matter. At this stage, the wastewater must be disposed of properly in order to minimize any adverse impact on the environment. Most paper plants have their wastewater treated either at the facility or an outside location.
According to studies, the most common and efficient means of wastewater treatment from paper plants is coagulation. This process results in the sedimentation of suspended matter, effectively filtering the water – but involves a metal coagulant, typically alum.
Ensuring that the final coagulated sludge is disposed of properly – whether this step is done internally or with a partner – is important to further minimize your operation’s overall impact on the environment.
With the need to conserve our environment, the paper recycling industry presents a great opportunity to grow a business while also implementing sustainable practices in your day-to-day operations.