De-inking Process

The pulp is then ready to be made into paper. Depending on the grade of paper being produced, quantities of virgin pulp from sustainable sources may be added. Some papers, such as newsprint and corrugated materials, can be made from 100% recycled paper.

Once the paper is used, it can be recycled and the process starts again.

Promoting eco-design with the ‘deinkability scorecard'
The European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC) has adopted a new assessment scheme, the ‘deinkability scorecard', to promote the ecological-friendly design of printed products. Such designs are recyclable and promote sustainable production processes.

The scheme is designed to allow printers, publishers and other members of the paper value chain to identify which types of printed paper products have the best recyclability when they are deinked. Five parameters - luminosity, colour, cleanliness, ink elimination and filtrate darkening - are considered in a widely accepted standardised test developed by the International Association of the Deinking Industry (INGEDE).

Recycling: natural limits
Recovered paper cannot be efficiently used in all paper grades, nor can it be used indefinitely. Paper recycling needs to continuously incorporate a certain amount of fresh fibres for three main reasons:

  • Strength: cellulose fibre deteriorates each time it is recycled.
    • Depending upon the type of paper being made, it can be reused several times.
  • Quality: while most, if not all, paper and board grades could be made of 100% recovered paper, some products need top quality recovered paper, (like clippings and shavings from printers), which is not widely available.
    • Some paper and board grades make little or no use of recovered fibre because certain properties are better and more economically provided by virgin pulp. This can be partly due to the quality requirements of the end-product, such as high-grade artwork, or the technical characteristics needed for many special purpose grades, such as security paper, which prevents fraudulent use of documents.
  • Availability:
    • Around 19% of the paper we use is not possible to recycle.
      • Some paper products are not sent for recycling - for example, books, documents and photographs kept at home or in archives and libraries.
      • In other cases, paper products deteriorated or are destroyed when used - such as sanitary paper or cigarette paper.
      • As paper production grows, recovered fibres alone are insufficient to produce all new papers.

Some paper products require characteristics that can best be provided by virgin fibre. To produce such grades, virgin fibre and recycled fibre are incorporated in different proportions in the European paper production.

When producing graphic papers based on recycled fibres, for example, the paper mill needs high quality raw materials. This includes as little ink as possible to facilitate de-inking, or preferably not having to de-ink at all. It also includes a large proportion of paper from chemical pulp, which produces the strongest fibres.

Additionally, it is not always economically viable or environmentally sound to collect every piece of paper due to the heavy transportation that would be required.

Using recovered paper to manufacture new paper is viable along as virgin fibres are introduced into the recycling process.


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