Paper Waste Everything You Need To Know

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If we have learned anything over the past few years, it’s about the importance of recycling, especially when it comes to products that are often in high demand, such as paper. This is due to the simple fact that while some 30% of household waste is paper, this rises to as high as 80% for some office-based businesses. As a result, business owners have a responsibility to ensure that any paper used within the day-to-day running of their business is safely and securely disposed of and recycled.

With that in mind, here is a guide of everything you need to know about paper and paper recycling.

paper waste

How is paper made?

Paper has gone on a long journey before it became the final product sitting on your desk. Here’s precisely how paper is made.

Chipping. During this stage, the bark is first removed from the logs, which are then chipped into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Pulping. The chips are then broken down into pulp through the use of a chemical called lignin. This process extracts the cellulose fibres that make up paper from the source materials.

Papermaking. The pulp is then poured into a machine that removes any excess water. It then spreads out and forms a thin sheet. It is then flattened, dried, and cut to size.

How much paper do we use in the UK?

In the UK alone, we use over 12.5 million tonnes of paper annually. This is because it is used across a variety of businesses, from factories to offices. While studies estimate that around 80% of this waste is recycled, there is still room for improvement, as approximately seven million tonnes of paper are sent to a landfill each year.

Is all paper recyclable?

Three types of paper can be recycled. This includes:

Mill broke paper. This refers to the scraps or trimmings that break away when the paper is first manufactured. This is often recycled internally.

Pre-consumer waste. This refers to paper that has been thrown away or discarded before being used by the consumer. This could include magazines or newspapers that were printed but never sold.

Post-consumer waste. This refers to paper that is thrown away after being used.

As a result, the vast majority of paper is recyclable. The only exceptions to this rule are paper products that have been covered in other materials such as wax, plastic, or foil. It could also include paper items that have been contaminated by food. Examples of non-recyclable paper include paper plates or metallic wrapping paper.

How to recycle paper.

Recycling large volumes of paper waste doesn’t need to be a headache for business owners – in fact, we can do the hard work for you! At BusinessWaste, we can:

Put together a waste management plan that enables you to safely and securely dispose of any waste produced within the day-to-day running of your business. We’ll also provide you with insight into the numerous ways in which you can reduce the volume of waste you produce altogether.

Provide you with access to a range of free paper recycling bins in accordance with the volume of waste you are producing. This could include traditional wheelie bins or skips.

Ensure that you know how to best dispose of and store all of your waste before collection. We’ll then put together a collection schedule that works for you.

Once your waste has been collected, we’ll ensure that your paper waste disposal is done the right way – by working alongside specialist recycling facilities and avoiding landfill sites altogether.

How is Paper Recycled?


Paper waste is deposited by the user/consumer into the appropriate bins, such as dry mixed recycling bins.

Transportation. Paper waste is collected by a licensed carrier, who will transport the paper and other goods to a specialist recycling centre.

Separation. The paper products are then separated where appropriate.

Cleaning. In order for the paper to then be properly recycled and repurposed, it needs to be cleaned. The cleaning process will remove any signs of ink, glue, staples or similar products from the paper, forming a substance known as a slurry. The slurry is then poured into a large container and mixed with water. At this stage, new materials can be added to the mix to make ‘new’ paper.

Spreading. The slurry is then spread out carefully and dried so that it can be cut into sheets. This means that the paper is then ready for redistribution.

What are the uses for shredded paper?

Many businesses prefer to shred their paper waste ahead of disposal. This is because the waste may contain confidential or sensitive information, such as personal addresses and banking details. However, you don’t necessarily have to throw away shredded paper immediately. Alternative uses for shredded paper include:

    Kindling for fires or BBQs.
    Arts & crafts.
    Cat litter.

Can you recycle shredded paper?

Shredded paper can be recycled, but it is a little trickier than disposing of the paper outright. This is because the small pieces can sometimes get stuck in the machinery, making it harder for the pulp to be created. This means that you can put shredded paper in a recycling bin, but it’s helpful to first separate it from the rest of your paper waste – whether you use a separate container or a waste bag.

What are some uses for used wrapping paper?

As mentioned previously, some forms of wrapping paper are non-recyclable, particularly if they are metallic or contain glitter. Therefore, to avoid sending excessive amounts of waste to a landfill site, you should first think about how you could reuse the paper. This could include:

    Arts & Crafts.
    Creating party decorations, such as bunting.
    Colourful lining for bookshelves and drawers.
    Making placemats or coasters.

Is wrapping paper recyclable?

Regular or glossy wrapping paper is completely recyclable and can be disposed of in your regular recycling bin. However, it would help if you took care to ensure all sellotape is removed ahead of time, as this could further complicate the recycling process.

Is baking paper recyclable?

Baking paper, sometimes referred to as greaseproof paper, is a common household item but is also used frequently across the hospitality industry in restaurants and bakeries. Unfortunately, baking paper is not recycled because it is made with a silicone coating and can sometimes retain waste oil from the baking process. This means that where possible, you should search for alternative products to use. This could include a glass baking tray.

Can you compost paper?

As mentioned previously, composting is a great way to reuse paper instead of disposing of it outright. This is due to the fact that the addition of paper to a compost heap can help the soil retain water or increase its volume. It’s also a great source of carbon, which helps speed up the breakdown of organic matter. You can find out more about the values of composting within your business here.

Paper Facts.

Recycling one tonne of paper saves 30,000 litres of water and 3000-4000 kWh of electricity. That’s enough power to sustain an average three bedroomed house for a year.

Producing recycled paper protects finite resources and requires 28-70% less energy.

Paper is one of the most widely recycled materials in the UK.

The average family living in the UK throws away six trees worth of paper each year.

The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper in a single year, making clear the importance of going paperless.

Any questions?

If you have any more questions about paper waste, the recycling process, or want to arrange for your waste to be collected, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Confidential shredding
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