The Future of Paper Recycling | 3 Innovations for a Greener Tomorrow

Unlocking the Secrets to a More Sustainable Future: How Recycling Paper Can Help

Why recycling paper is important

The benefits of recycling paper are vast. For one, recycling paper saves energy and natural resources. In addition, recycling paper takes less energy than creating new paper from scratch and releases fewer pollutants than creating new products from raw materials. 

So why isn't everyone recycling paper? One of these challenges is finding ways to make it easier for people to recycle their paper. Currently, many people need access to convenient recycling locations or require more knowledge about what types of paper can be recycled. Some people are still skeptical about whether recycling is as good for the environment as it is touted. Here are three things to look for in the future that could help address some of these issues.

1. How utilizing phytoremediation could make recycling even greener

Phytoremediation is the use of plants to remove pollutants from the environment. This is typically done through absorption by placing plants in areas affected by pollutants. Plants used for phytoremediation are often chosen for their ability to tolerate and accumulate heavy metals or other contaminants in their tissues.

sunshine and green gras in front of mountains

Even though recycling produces significantly less waste than starting from virgin pulp, phytoremediation can make the recycling process even more environmentally friendly. For example, when recycling paper, harsh chemicals are used for cleaning and bleaching. Though the use of these chemicals is minimized through recycling, they are still harmful to the environment and produce hazardous waste. Phytoremediation is a promising technology that could promise a much greener future when used in conjunction with recycling.

2. Turning paper waste into jet fuel

Turning paper products back into paper may not be the only way to recycle. While this may sound like science fiction, this new innovation could rock the energy sector in the future. 

Bio friendly recycled jet fuel

The process of turning paper waste into jet fuel is relatively new, but it has already shown promise in terms of feasibility and potential benefits. The basic idea is to break down the paper waste into its component parts, including cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. These three substances can then be used to create jet fuel.

There are a few key benefits to this process:

  1. Like all recycling, it helps to reduce the amount of paper waste that ends up in landfills.
  2. It creates a new source of jet fuel that can help to reduce our reliance on traditional fossil fuels.
  3. It helps to support the development of renewable energy sources.
  4. It has the potential to create new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Lastly, the most significant benefit of turning paper into jet fuel comes from the fact that currently, paper can only be recycled into something useful about five to seven times before the fibers break down completely. Once waste paper reaches this point of decomposition, we have no choice but to dispose of it. However, converting paper into fuel doesn't require the waste paper to have any structural integrity left in it. In other words, this fuel could be created with everything left that was destined for a landfill, theoretically ending paper as something that is ever thrown away. 

All of these benefits make the process of turning paper waste into jet fuel a promising one. While there are still some challenges to overcome, such as developing an efficient and cost-effective way to break down the paper waste, there is potential for this process to play a significant role in our transition to a more sustainable future.

3. New technology makes recycling more affordable

In recent times recycling has become much more affordable, but there is still much room for improvement.

One of the main problems keeping the cost of recycled materials high is the process of sorting materials. In the past, different initiatives have been started to encourage more people to sort other materials right at the source. Unfortunately, the success rate of this has been underwhelming and understandably so. People have busy lives, and sorting through recyclables is a lot to ask people to do for free. 

 supervisor at automated sorting recycling plant

With technology, such as optical sorting, separating the materials by human hands may be a thing of the past, both at the source and on-site. According to Recycling Today, Waste Management Inc., is investing 30 million dollars to outfit their plant in Oakland, Ohio, with this new technology. 

Of course, one of the best ways to increase the affordability of recycled materials is for all of us to recycle more. Unfortunately, there are still many regions in America that lack the infrastructure to accommodate all of the waste produced by the local community. However, if the current trend continues, we can expect that automation technology will help ease the burden and make recycling easier for all of us.

When it comes to recycling, there are always ways to make the process more efficient and environmentally friendly. One thing we certainly can expect in the future is more investments from large corporations to flow into the recycling industry. This will allow for more efficient recycling solutions to be developed, making it easier and more affordable for everyone.