Recycling paper and paperboard waste and debris should be easy since they are almost endlessly recyclable materials. But it doesn't happen often enough.
Paper recycling—the process of converting old paper products into new paper—is one of the most successful forms of recycling in the world. Almost 70 percent of paper used in the United States winds up at a recycling plant and is remade in paper mills.
Why Throwing All Recyclables into the Same Bin Doesn't Work
Much of the recycling efforts in the United States is based on what is known as "single stream" recycling. Single stream recycling means that all paper products, plastics, metals, and other containers are mixed in a collection truck, instead of being sorted by the depositor into separate types of recyclable materials.
And this means that much of the paper waste gets contaminated, which is a major problem.
Generally speaking paper waste contaminated with oils, grease, and other substances are no longer viable for recycling. And single stream recycling collection practices increases the rate of contamination.
According to an article at Recycling Waste World,
"Heavily contaminated paper quite often cannot be recycled at all. In such cases, papers can end up in waste to energy or even landfill. Not only do both these options fall further down the waste hierarchy than recycling, they can also result in added environmental and financial cost.
So, contamination in paper for recycling means:l
- wasted journeys,
- lost value in recycling revenues,
- production downtime,
- machine repairs,
- higher production costs,
- a valuable resource lost from the recycling process."
We do manage to recycle quite a bit of the paper and paperboard, or cardboard, waste that is collected throughout the country. The problem is that, unlike what we are often led to believe, are efforts at recycling - especially waste materials such as paper and cardboard - fall far short of what we would like to think we're accomplishing.
Recycling Paper and Paperboard Waste Scoreboard
According to the EPA website,
"EPA classified products made of paper and paperboard materials as either nondurable goods or as containers and packaging. Nondurable goods include products such as office papers, newspapers, tissue paper, and paper plates and cups. Containers and packaging include products such as corrugated boxes, milk cartons, and bags and sacks."
So, how much paper and paperboard waste do we produce, and how much gets recycled?
The EPA estimated that in 2018 - the most recent figures available - that we managed to accomplish the following:
- The total amount of paper and paperboard that ended up as municipal solid waste (MSW) was 67.4 million tons in 2018, which was 23.1 percent of total MSW generation for that year.
- Approximately 46 million tons of paper and paperboard were recycled in 2018 for a recycling rate of 68.2 percent, which was the highest compared to other materials in MSW.
- Nondurable goods made of paper, excluding newspapers, had a recycling rate of 43.1 percent, while newspapers had a recycling rate of 64.8 percent.
- Paper containers and packaging, excluding corrugated boxes, had a recycling rate of 20.8 percent, while corrugated boxes had a recycling rate of 96.5 percent in 2018.
This all means that, overall, we managed to recycle about 57 percent of all the various types of paper and paperboard waste that was tossed out. And, as you can see here, some types of paper waste was recycled at a much higher rate than others.
What does all this mean for the average person at home? Simply that much of the paper waste we toss into the recycling bin is unlikely to be recycled.
So, what happens to it?
Again, according to statistics from the EPA, we can determine the following:
- The total amount of paper and paperboard combusted in 2018 was 4.2 million tons. This was 12.2 percent of all MSW combusted that year.
- In 2018, landfills received 17.2 million tons of MSW paper and paperboard. This was 11.8 percent of MSW landfilled in 2018.
Incinerating waste can be a beneficial and efficient option to recycling. According to one source,
"This heat from combustion can be converted into energy. Incineration is a high-quality treatment for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), very useful in big or crowded cities, because it reduces the quantity and volume of waste to be land filled. It can be localised in an urbanised zone, and offers the opportunity of recovering energy."
The remaining portion of paper and paperboard waste that ends up in landfills is still a quite substantial amount of landfill waste. In fact, the only waste products that makes up larger percentages of landfilled material are food waste and plastic.
On the plus side, however, there is a great alternative to simply putting all your bulk paper and cardboard waste in your residential recycling bins or the recycling dumpster at work.
Outsource Your Paper Waste Disposal
One of the main benefits of having a professional firm pick up your household recycling and other trash is that you won't have it taking up space. Typically, you can have it removed and hauled away that day or the next day.
Junk King is proud to be North America’s greenest residential junk removal service.
We pioneered recycling-based junk removal in 2005 and have been going greener ever since. We sort each and every job for metals, e-waste, paper, household goods, textiles, furniture and appliances, in our recycling warehouses.
But “going green” also means we donate, repurpose, and reuse everything from clothing, toys, baby cribs and strollers to office furniture and supplies. In addition, we can make sure that your bulk paper and cardboard waste is properly disposed of in the most green manner possible.
Junk King is committed to continuing to lead the way to help keep our planet clean, green and beautiful for the generations to come.
Call Junk King for Bulk Paper and Paperboard Disposal and Recycling
There is a truly simple and efficient bulk recycling option and that's calling Junk King.
Junk King provides professional junk hauling services to remove all types of junk including bulk paper waste and paperboard or cardboard debris. And even your excess trash and garbage. We even have the equipment and resources to remove large boxes and other containers up your stairways,your basement steps, or from your garage.
Whatever your junk consists of, Junk King can help you get it out of the way. We provide an eco-friendly junk removal service to help you get rid of any unwanted junk, large trash items, and even old appliances.
Our professional and insured appliance disposal team will show up at your home or office; we call 15 minutes before we arrive on site and we’ll give you a free estimate based on how much room your junk takes up in our truck. You point and we haul your unwanted items into our junk removal trucks, with no hidden fees.
It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.
You can make an appointment by booking online above or by calling 1.888.888.JUNK (5865).