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Have you ever wondered what happens to all the paper and cardboard you throw into the recycling bin after it gets taken away? I mean, we all know that it gets recycled into new things, but how much do you know about the process of taking your old paperwork, junk mail and cardboard packaging becomes the shiny new ‘made from recycled materials’ products you pop into the shopping basket. It’s actually quite an interesting process when you get down to it, which is why we want to share it with you today.

Collection & Transportation

Once a week, you will have to put your big blue bin out on the side of the road and wait for the recycling lorry to come around and pick it up. We don’t recommend you actually wait, it will be quite boring for you. But eventually a big lorry manned by burly men will come along and scoop up your recycling bin, emptying your bin and returning it for you for another fortnights filling. The contents of your bin are then mixed into the rest of the lorry’s contents, until it is full and returns to a recycling point to be emptied.


Of course, more goes into your recycling bin than paper, so the first step is separation. This is done at a recycling plant, either by hand or by machine, and separates papers, plastics, cardboard and more. Once all of the paper products are separated, they are then divided further. This time they are split into types and grades of paper. This makes it easier to mix down and prevents contamination. 

Mixing & Additions 

Each type of paper is then put through a machine that washes it thoroughly with soapy water. This washing has to be quite rough, as it also needs to remove ink, plastic film, staples and glue. Once the paper is clean, it is put into a large vat, which is then filled with water and mixed vigorously. This creates a paste like mixture called ‘slurry’ – the base of all paper products. At this point, the recycling centre employees may want to add different materials into the slurry in order to create different paper products. For example, by adding certain things to a basic paper slurry, you can create cardboard, newsprint, office paper and even tissue paper.

Spreading & Drying

Once the slurry is complete and mixed well, it is spread onto a flat surface using large rollers. This creates huge sheets of slurry, which are then left to dry either by air or by using heating elements or air pressure. This process can take anywhere from 1 – 12 hours, depending on the type of paper product created and the method of drying. Once the paper is dried, it is rolled up and sent to manufacturing plants.


And that’s it! Once the paper has been dried and rolled it can be cut and made into any type of product you like. So whether you’re building cardboard boxes or creating eco-friendly toilet paper. The options are wide open. In fact, many brands that deal in recycled materials actually request types of paper, down to the colour, texture and ingredient ratio, all of which helps then create recycled products that are kind to the environment.

And that’s’ it! At Greenaway, 100% of all the paper and cardboard we shred is bundled up and sent directly to recycling centres across the UK to be transformed into new recycled products. So when you bring us paper to destroy, you are also giving back to the environment. For more information on paper recycling or eco-friendly business practices, just get in touch with us today.