The grade of paper is determined by fiber length, which shortens after each trip through the recycling process. After being recycled five to seven times, the fibers become too short to make new paper and will need to be mixed with new, un-recycled fibers.
Paper is sorted into different grades. For example, newspaper is a lower grade paper because it has already been recycled numerous times, while printer paper is higher grade paper, with longer fibers.
Single-Stream – This type of collection allows you to put all recyclables like glass, plastic and paper in one container. Single-stream collection makes the process easy for those who wish to recycle and it requires fewer trucks for collection.
Sorted-Stream – This type of collection requires residents to separate certain kinds of recyclables. You may be asked to put all mixed paper in one container or to separate paper waste more specifically.
Some of the terminology related to paper or paper product recycling includes:
- Old Corrugated Containers – You might have heard this called corrugated cardboard. It is most often found in boxes and product packaging.
- Mixed Paper – This is a broad category of paper that includes things like mail, catalogs, phone books and magazines.
- Old Newspapers – This is pretty self-explanatory. Mills use newspapers, a lower grade paper, to make more newsprint, tissue and other products.
- High Grade Deinked Paper – This quality paper consists of things like envelopes, copy paper and letterhead that has gone through the printing process and had the ink removed.
- Pulp Substitutes – This paper is usually discarded scraps from mills. It may find its way into products you buy, but generally won't be used in any new products.