How to Recycle Paper

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This article is a draft. It was just started and needs further work.

Sources of waste paper

  • Industrial waste (or primary waste) can often be obtained from the large paper processing, manufacturing and packaging industries. Rejected or waste material usually has good characteristics for recycling and will be clean. Although the quantity of material available is sometimes small, the quantities tend to be growing as consumption, and therefore production, increases.
  • Commercial waste is often available from printing workshops, craftsmen, copyshops, supermarkets and wholesalers.
  • Municipal waste can be collected from residential areas (domestic or household waste), streets, parks, collection depots and waste dumps. In Asian cities this type of waste is common and can either be collected from the streets or can be collected from households by arrangement with the householders.

Try agreeing with either those companies or with householder associations or municipalities and to organise a place where they can collect separately waste paper and a regular collection time.


When thinking about setting up a small-scale recycling enterprise, it is advisable to first carry out a survey to ascertain the types of paper available for collection, the type of paper used by manufacturers (who will be willing to buy the reclaimed material), and the economic viability of collection: Best is to ask directly to the people that might buy you the material collected, or people already involved in the business.

The method of collection can vary. The following gives some ideas;

  • House to house collection of paper and other materials (e.g. paper).
  • House to house collection of paper only.
  • Collection at a central point e.g. market or church.
  • Collection from street boys in return for payment.
  • Regular collection from shops, hotels, factories, etc.
  • Purchase from scavengers on the municipal dump.
    *Scavenging or collecting oneself.

The method will depend upon the scale of the operation, the capital available for set-up, transport availability, etc.

Initial upgrading

Once the paper has been collected, it will have to be sorted. The techniques used will depend on the scale of the operation, the type of sorting required by the paper manufacture willing to buy the reclaimed material and the type of waste collected, but at the simplest level will involve sorting of the paper into the required colors and / or types.

Simple recycled-paper making technique

Tear up paper into long strips
Soak the paper strips in a tub of water until it starts to fall apart easily, then stir and tear the strips until you have pulp
Create sheets of paper using molds (called a deckle in the paper making trade) these can be made from a wooden frame with a very fine wire mesh.
Scoop the mold through the pulpy water and let the water strain away.
Carefully lay the mold on top of some cloths and peel the mold away.
Cover the pulp with another cloth and use weights or a press to squeeze out as much water as you can...
Then either hang the paper or press it some glass to dry.

Equipment Suppliers

Paper recycling unit for medium size workshops (from one tonne of waste paper per month):
Micro Paper recycling unit for schools (one tonne of paper in a calendar year)