How to Recycle or Reuse Newspaper

An Overview on Recycling and Reusing Newspapers

Many of us still love the feeling of leafing through a broadleaf newspaper in the morning as we sip coffee and get ready for the daily commute. But newspapers, along with other types of paper, make up a big portion of our waste stream throughout the developed world - 23% in Australia,[1] 39% in the US to name just a few stats.[2] Thankfully, a good portion of it is being recycled these days. In 2009, the recovery rate for newspapers in the US was 70%, with more than 7 million tons collected.[3] In the UK, the number is more like 81.7%.[4] Recycling newspaper has many environmental benefits:

  • When you recycle 54 kg of newspaper, you save one tree.[5]
  • Making newspaper from recycled materials, like old newspapers, requires 40% fewer raw materials.[6] In fact, recycling one ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, and enough energy to power an American home for six months.[7]
  • Recycling newsprint also reduces sulfur dioxide and methane emissions which are hazardous to the environment.[8]
  • Because resources like timber has been the focus of many brutal wars, recycling helps to alleviate the source of such conflicts.[9]

The newspaper recycling process

When newspapers and other recycled paper material are collected, they are sent to paper processing mills where they become part of the feedstock used to make new paper products. They are combined with water in a pulper which blends it all up until it forms a slurry that is then screened to remove clay, dirt, ink, metal, and plastic. Repeated screening and drying produces a solid mixture that is flattened into sheets of paper.

Unfortunately, because newspaper is made from short cellulose fibers which are of poorer quality than long cellulose fibers, it does not fetch as high a price as recycled office paper. However, the resulting fibers can be used to make things like more newspapers, egg cartons, grocery bags, tissue products, pencil barrels, and other materials that require short fiber strands.

How to waste fewer newspapers

Though newspaper is highly recyclable, it may be better to un-waste newsprint by finding other ways to get your daily news. For instance:

  • Subscribe to online versions of your favorite newspapers. Big name newspapers all offer such options, including BBC News, Chicago Tribune, and CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the L.A. Times. You can often get these newspapers on your PDA or smart phone as well to make the morning commute more productive.
  • Watch your news on TV or online to get a more interactive experience.
  • Cancel your newspaper subscription if you know you’re going to be out of town for a few days or a few weeks.
  • Share your newspaper subscription with a neighbor or co-worker so that only one is printed between the group.

Where to recycle newspapers

When recycling your old newspapers, be sure that they are clean (not stained with paint or oil) and dry (not moldy). Then look for solutions for turning your old newsprint into new newspapers, such as:

  • Curbside recycling: Most curbside recycling programs now accept things like newspapers. Just be sure to give your program coordinator to ensure that you’re able to recycle this material with your other waste.
  • Drop off recycling: When curbside recycling isn’t available, look for drop-off recycling facilities (our recycling database has all the resources you need). To make it easier to transport your newspaper for recycling, bundle it up with twine, in a crate, or in grocery bags to keep it neat and organized.
  • Compost: If you’ve got a backyard compost pile or container, consider shredding your newspaper and adding it to the pile to make up some of the “browns” your system requires. Recycle it into your garden next year! Just be cautious of heavy metals often used in conventional printing dyes. Safe dyes are made with soy or vegetable bases - call your newspaper to find out what kind they use before composting newspapers in a pile to be used on your veggie garden.

How to reuse newspaper

Can’t find recycling for your newspapers in your are? Try these newspaper reuse ideas:

  • Make your own paper: Try this fun experiment for recycling newspaper into new paper you can use around your house. It’s a great way to educate your kids about recycling.
  • Moving packaging: If you’re about to change homes, use newsprint to pack up your fragile items like china and glasses.
  • Gift wrap: If you’ve got a funky style, reuse newspaper as gift wrap for your next special event.
  • Odor and shape savers: Crumpled up newspapers can be used to help hats and shows maintain their shape and will absorb nasty odors in the process.





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References

1  Trends in waste production in Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2010, from Parliament of Australia: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/eca_ctte/aust_waste_streams/report/c02.pdf

2  Facts About Paper and Paper Waste. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2010, from ID2Communications: http://www.id2.ca/downloads/eco-design-paper-facts.pdf

3  Recovery of Old Newspapers (ONP)/Mechanical Papers. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2010, from PaperRecycles.org: http://www.paperrecycles.org/stat_pages/onp.html

4  The Open University Household Waste Study. (2008, October 1). Retrieved July 20, 2010, from Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs: http://www.defra.gov.uk/evidence/statistics/environment/waste/research/download/ou-fct06-20081008.pdf

5  (Facts About Paper and Paper Waste)

6  NRC's 26th Annual Congress & Expo Press Kit. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2010, from National Recycing Coalition: http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nrc-recycle.org%2FData%2FSites%2F1%2FPress%2FNRC%25202007%2520Congress%2520Press%2520Kit.doc&ei=JNVFTM2pOYfSsAOokqCzAg&usg=AFQjCNHETdlLSi_0HLbXM79745DPi-boag&sig2=ZUfs7dwsLCq

7  Paper Recycling - Basic Information Details. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2010, from US Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/paper/basics/index.htm

8  Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases - A Life-Cycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks. (2002, May). Retrieved July 20, 2010, from US Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.nrc-recycle.org/Data/Sites/1/Climate%20Change/EPAStudySolidWasteandGHG.pdf

9  Environmental Recycling Benefits and Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2010, from Recycling Revolution: http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-benefits.html

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