The paper lifecycle

The basic papermaking process has changed very little since it was first developed. However, over the last two centuries, major improvements and refinements have transformed modern papermaking into a highly sustainable, high-technology industry.

1. Raw Materials:
To supply paper’s primary ingredient, wood pulp, trees are grown, cut down and replanted for future use. The trees are sustainably harvested and cut into logs for transport to a mill for processing.

2. Processing:
The logs arrive at a factory to be debarked and chipped into small pieces, then turned into pulp in one of two ways. To create chemical pulp, the wood chips are heated with chemicals to dissolve lignin, an organic polymer found in plant matter, and release the individual wood fibers. The second process, mechanical pulping, grinds the wood with water. Pulp created mechanically retains its lignin, which is why papers made with these types of pulp yellow over time.

3. Papermaking:
After bleaching to make it white, the pulp is washed to improve brightness. From here, the pulp is mixed with other ingredients, formed into a sheet on a rotating “screen” through a drainage process, and fed through heated rollers that press it flat and dry. After this step, some papers receive an additional top coating for improved smoothness and printability.

4. Packaging:
After the paper is made, it is wound onto a giant roll, then cut into different sheet and roll sizes and packaged.

5. Transport:
The finished paper products are then packaged for shipping and transported around the world.

6. Use:
Paper is one of the most versatile materials on earth. Whether it’s newsprint, printing and writing papers, packaging, household and toilet tissues, or industrial and special-purpose papers, paper is part of the everyday fabric of life.

7. End of Life:
After use, most paper can be recycled and utilized in the manufacturing of new paper.

Ed #13 Balance