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IMS

A quick introduction to paper and cardboard recycling

REMONDIS Integrated and Managed Services // 6 October 2021

1

Australians use over 4.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard each year

2

Australia is a world leader in paper recycling – recycling approximately 87%

3

Every Australian consumes around 230kg of virgin paper each year

Environmental impact of paper & cardboard

The production of paper and cardboard requires large volumes of energy, water and trees. 

Natural fibre for paper and cardboard is predominately sourced from trees. The production of paper and cardboard involves mechanical and/or chemical means to pulp a natural resource into a useable product.

  • To produce 1 tonne of paper approximately 20 fully grown trees are required
  • Producing 1 tonne of paper uses over 90,000 litres of water
  • Manufacturing 1 tonne of paper produces 1.46 tonnes of greenhouse gases
  • 1.9 million tonnes of paper ends up in landfill each year

Alternatively, recycling paper uses up to 50% less energy and 90% less water than making virgin paper from raw materials.

By recycling cardboard, you can help reduce these greenhouse gases and the number of new trees required to create the same products. Happily, cardboard is one of the easiest materials to recycle.


Cardboard and paper collection bins

Mixed cardboard and paper bins

As the name suggests, these bins can accept both paper and cardboard. Importantly, you should flatten cardboard boxes to minimise airspace paper only bins.

Allowed in mixed bins: Prohibited in mixed bins:
Cardboard Wet cardboard
Newspapers and magazines Receipt paper
Office paper Laminated paper
Shredded paper Adhesive or duct tape
Envelopes General waste
Books Hazardous materials
  Dangerous goods

Paper-only bins

These are generally wheelie bins that are found within offices and can only accept paper

Secure document destruction bins

These are also generally wheelie bins in office environments. Any materials placed into these bins is securely destroyed at specialised facilities. They are used for sensitive documents and, as a specialised service, are a more expensive option.

On site baling or compaction

For very large producers of paper and cardboard, there may be financial benefits to bailing or compaction using specialised equipment. The use of this equipment will depend on the amount of cardboard and paper waste generated, space available on site, and operational needs.


How is paper and cardboard recycled?

Most (but not all) cardboard and paper is recyclable. Paper and cardboard is biodegradable and has a high emission factor when it breaks down in a landfill.

By recycling cardboard, you can help reduce these greenhouse gasses and reduce the number of new trees required to create the same products.

Cardboard and paper processing, simplified

  1. Collected paper and cardboard is transported to a recycling plant where it is separated into types and grades
  2. Washed to remove inks, plastic film, staples and glue
  3. Placed into a large holder where it is mixed with water to create ‘slurry’
  4. By adding different materials to the slurry, a range of paper products can be created such as cardboard, newsprint or office paper
  5. The slurry is spread into thin sheets using large rollers
  6. The paper or cardboard is left to dry before it is rolled up ready to be cut and sent back into the market

Paper and cardboard recycling: best practice for customers

  • Print less paper
  • Keep contamination out of bins
  • Remember paper can be mixed with cardboard in a cardboard bin, but paper-only bins can only accept paper
  • Break down boxes to reduce air space
  • Consider bailing for large volume

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