We all know by now that we should be recycling as much as possible--but are we using that principle to its full potential? As a lifelong green campaigner and environmental activist I'm passionate about recycling, and I've started this blog to talk a little more about all the little extras you can do. I'll be covering craft projects you can do with the kids, tips for starting and maintaining your own compost pile, ways to help your local recycling plant out with the way you put your rubbish in the recycling bin and tips for "upcycling" some of the things you throw away the most.
While plastic is currently seen as the enemy when it comes to global recycling, you need to adopt a more comprehensive approach when it comes to reusing a wide variety of materials in your workplace. In truth, you may not actually use a lot of plastic in your organisation and instead, seem to go through tons of paper on a monthly basis. Do you have an active plan in place to deal with all of this or are you, in truth, somewhat inconsistent? It pays to have a clear understanding of the paper recycling industry and figure out what your role is in the process.
Rolling Your Sleeves Up
Above all else, this is a team sport, and every member of your organisation has to be an active player. If you motivate them to gather all paper waste together and funnel it to a central facility, it can be collected and taken to a recycling centre, where the magic begins.
The Process Revealed
Once the output goes there, it'll be stripped right back to paper materials, so any paperclips, staples or other attachments are removed and sent elsewhere. Technicians will then be able to sort the paper into different grades before it is directed towards the processing mill. Next, the paper is shredded by powerful machines before being deposited into a vat, where water and chemicals are added to break everything down to a solution.
The mixture is then fed through a formation device under heat, so wood fibres emerge en masse at the end. At this stage, the pulp will still retain different colours or inks used within any printing process, and this colour will be eliminated by spinning the mixture at a high speed. It is then sprayed through a filter onto a belt device to remove the "dirty" water and leave the recoverable material behind. Finally, this mixture is dried as it is funnelled through a number of heated rolling machines before it is compressed and packaged.
The End Result
This is your recycled paper in its base form and it can now be used to create a variety of different products, including paper towels, toilet paper, packaging materials, or newspapers. It can also be used in the creation of clothing, wood-based products or disposable filters, and there is a growing demand for recycled paper materials across a range of industries.
Getting Everybody on Board
It pays to motivate your team so that they get on board with this project. Calculate how much paper you use and how much you could send through a recycling process. You can use some online calculators to help you determine the impact that you will make by repurposing this material on a monthly basis, and you should use these headline figures to provide inspiration. Some of your workers may respond better to natural incentives and you can compare your annual paper usage to the raw material required at the outset, or in other words, how many trees you can save in their natural environment.