About Recycled Paperboard

You will find a wealth of information regarding recycled paperboard and more at the organizations below. Our industry nurtures an environment where the rate of paper recovery continually increases. According to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), in 2011, 66.8 percent of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling, nearly doubling our rate of paper recovery since 1990. Of that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2010 85% of all corrugated cardboard in the US was recovered for recycling.

Benefits of Paper Recycling

The environmental benefits of paper recycling are many. Paper recycling:

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that can contribute to climate change by avoiding methane emissions and reducing energy required for a number of paper products.
  • Extends the fiber supply and contributes to carbon sequestration.
  • Saves considerable landfill space.
  • Reduces energy and water consumption.
  • Decreases the need for disposal (i.e., landfill or incineration which decreases the amount of CO2 produced).

Recycling one ton of paper would:

  • Save enough energy to power the average American home for six months.
  • Save 7,000 gallons of water.
  • Save 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton of carbon equivalent (MTCE).

How is paper recycled by recycled paperboard mills?

Recycled paper processing mills use paper as their feedstock. The recovered paper is combined with water in a large vessel called a pulper that acts like a blender to separate fibers in the paper sheets from each other. The resultant slurry then passes through screens and other separation processes to remove contaminants such as clays, dirt, plastic and metals. The amount of contaminants that are acceptable in the pulp depends upon the type of paper being produced. Mechanical separation equipment includes coarse and fine screens, centrifugal cleaners, and dispersion or kneading units that break apart ink particles.

Recovered fiber can be used to produce new paper products made entirely of recovered fiber (i.e. 100 percent recycled content) or from a blend of recovered and virgin fiber. Fiber cannot, however, be recycled endlessly. It is generally accepted that a fiber can be used five to seven times before it becomes too short (as a result of repulping and other handling) to be useable in new paper products. Recovered paper with long cellulose fibers (such as office paper) has the greatest flexibility for recycling as it can be used to produce new paper products that use either long or short fibers. Recovered paper with short cellulose fibers (such as newspaper) can only be recycled into other products that use short cellulose fibers. For this reason, recovered paper with long fibers is generally of higher value than recovered paper with short fiber.

Click here to see the companies that use the paper you recycle.


2017 RPTA Scholarship Recipients
Jonathan Fitch, Western Michigan University Chemical Engineering & Paper Engineering Science major, awarded 2017 RPTA scholarship.
Brad Kirby, Miami University of Ohio Chemical Engineering major, 2017 RPTA Scholarship recipient.
Abigail Cortright, Western University Paper Engineering major, 2017 RPTA Research Grant recipient.
For photo, click here.

2017 Industry Profile Study
Testing for the 2017 RPTA Industry Profile Study, the annual physical properties benchmarking study is underway. The annual report should be available to RPTA members in September 2017.

2017 Production-Technical Seminar
The 2017 RPTA Production Technical Seminar was co-located with TAPPI's PaperCon in 2017. The 2017 conference was held in Minneapolis, MN with the RPTA sessions taking place on April 24-25, 2017. More information on this event can be found here.

Plans are being made for the 2018 Production Technical Seminar, co-located with PaperCon for April 15-18 In Charlotte, North Carolina.

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