Recovered Paper Quality
Recovered paper and paperboard needs to be clean, dry, and free of contaminants in order for industry to use it as a raw material for making new paper products. Although small amounts of contaminants may be acceptable in certain paper products, steps should be taken to limit contaminates as much as possible. Contaminants can severely injure workers and damage equipment, which can lead to expensive downtime at the paper mill. Broken glass, in particular, is a serious hazard.
Contaminants include, though are not limited to:
- Plastic (e.g., report covers, spiral bindings)
- Most tapes, glues, and some adhesives (e.g., sticky notes, self stick labels, book binding)
- Food wastes
- Some coatings
Contaminants can enter the paper stream at any point in the paper recycling process, such as when individuals put their recyclables at the curb, custodians remove recyclables from office buildings and schools, or trucks haul bales of recovered paper to the mill. A mill may have to discard a bale of recovered paper that contains too many contaminants.
It is important for recovered paper to meet appropriate quality specifications. Consult industry guidelines in the Scrap Specifications Circular for detailed information about limits on contaminants in recovered paper.