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Waste Paper Recycling: A Comprehensive Guide

In today’s day and age, environmental consciousness is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, affecting both individuals and businesses alike. In the midst of a climate crisis, everyone is required to play their part to reduce their carbon footprint and make greener decisions where they can. One of the most widespread ways this is done on both a personal and a commercial scale is through recycling, specifically waste paper recycling.

In this guide, we’ll tell you all you need to know regarding paper recycling, including both the environmental and wider benefits it offers, along with advice on how to arrange paper recycling on different scales and comparing self-arranged recycling with professional services. Read on below to become a paper recycling expert!

How is Paper Recycled?

The process of recycling paper is an interesting one. We’ve listed the basic steps below.

  1. Upon receiving paper to be recycled, paper mills will then separate this paper into separate categories (i.e. office paper, magazines, newspapers etc.), as each is often treated slightly differently.

  2. Next the paper is washed. This is done to remove any glue, film, pieces of plastic or any other contaminants that may be present.

  3. If there is ink on the paper, then it is at this stage that it will be dissolved - known as de-inking. In some cases, bleach is also added to the fibres to increase the whiteness of the paper.

  4. Once the paper has been cleaned, next it needs to be turned into pulp. This requires it to be finely shredded into tiny pieces and mixed with water.

  5. After a pulp has been created, it’s ready to be turned into new paper. On an industrial level, this will typically involve feeding the pulp mixture into a paper making device, where it will be drained, pressed and rolled out into large, thin sheets ready to be cut and used as new paper.

Paper-Waste Recycling: What Are the Benefits?

Environmental Consideration

There is no doubt that recycling paper offers a plethora of environmental benefits. The concept of recycling in general plays a pivotal role in environmental discourse, with paper being one of the most widely and easily recycled materials across the world.

Firstly, recycling paper rather than creating it new reduces energy and water consumption by 70%, which in turn helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are reduced further when considering that recycling paper stops it from going to landfill, where it releases methane as it decomposes - known to be one of the most powerful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. This also frees up landfill space for other non-recyclable materials.

In addition to this, the recycling process allows natural resources to be saved. Although paper is technically considered a renewable resource since trees can be replanted, demand significantly outweighs supply, given that they take so many years to grow to full maturity. Alternatively, for every tonne of recycled paper produced, the equivalent of 4m3 of woodland is saved (that works out at approximately 12-17 trees!).

Economic Importance

Recycling your paper offers financial benefits in a number of ways. On a wider scale, by promoting and supporting a thriving paper recycling industry, numerous local jobs will be made available whereby workers learn how to sort and separate paper waste and see it through the recycling process. An increased availability of local jobs then boosts the local economy.

As for benefits for individual businesses, recycling paper allows companies to operate according to green credentials, helping them to minimise environmental taxes and fines, as well as having the potential to boost their reputation amongst environmentally conscious customers, thus potentially leading to an increase in sales.

Organising Paper Recycling


As an individual, recycling paper has never been easier than it is today. Most local councils will provide you with a specific waste bin or box to put your recyclable materials in, which will then be collected weekly to be sorted and disposed of responsibly.

If you find yourself producing more paper waste than the average person, then you can alternatively take your paper to your closest recycling point or recycling centre. If you aren’t sure where this would be in proximity to where you live, then using a recycling locator tool will show you all of the options local to your area.

Not only is it important to ensure that you dispose of your paper waste properly by utilising the recycling opportunities available to you, but it’s also important that you understand what types of paper can be recycled.

For example, paper cannot be recycled if it’s been contaminated with or stained with foodstuff, grease, paint or dirt. Similarly, many coloured papers and types of giftwrap cannot be recycled (e.g. foiled paper), nor can wallpaper.

It’s then important to check that you’re disposing of your paper in the right place. Different councils will have different rules surrounding what goes in your black recycling box vs your recycling bin, so check your local council’s website to check which you should be putting your paper waste in. On top of this, ensure that you aren’t including brown paper with this - this should be recycled with card, instead!


When it comes to office paper recycling, there is potential for much more recyclable paper waste to be produced than on an individual basis. Implementing a recycling plan will also involve more planning, as you must ensure that your employees stick to this to ensure that as much of your business’s paper waste is recycled as possible.

Such a plan should involve:

●      Your recycling goals

●      What materials are to be recycled

●      What containers and prompts will be in place to ensure correct segregation of recyclable waste

●      How to get employees involved

With this in mind, it’s important that you inform all of your current employees (and any new employees as and when they join the company) on your business’s recycling strategy and the measures you plan to/have put into place.

This could include having a dedicated recycling station, with clearly labelled bins showing which materials are to be put in which container. You could also print and laminate a bullet-pointed guide on the types of paper and can and cannot go in here.

As for disposing of collected paper waste, you must arrange for this to be collected. In some cases, you may be able to dispose of this with your standard dry mixed recycling, however if your organisation produced a vast amount of paper waste, then it’s best to have separate bins to store and remove this.

It is then up to you to find a responsible waste disposal company to collect, take away and recycle this waste on your organisation’s behalf.

Self-sorting vs Professional Services

For Individuals

When it comes to recycling paper, then, is it better to do this on your own or through the help of a professional paper disposal service? This is likely to depend on your personal circumstances.

If you produce an average amount of domestic paper waste, then the majority of the time you’re likely better off recycling this yourself and relying on your local recycling collection. Not only is this free for you to utilise (well, a portion of your council tax will go towards the local waste collection service), but the waste bin/box provided will likely be enough to hold the amount of waste paper your produce without overflowing.

On the off occasion that you may produce a little extra than normal, then you could easily take this to your local recycling centre - or very kindly ask a neighbour if they have room in their own recycling bin!

However, there are some occasions when you may benefit from the use of a professional service. For example, if you are self-employed or run a small crafting business, then you might find yourself producing more paper on a weekly basis than will fit into your recycling bin - especially considering that you will have other recyclable waste to be disposed of.

This can see you having excess waste paper, or you may even be tempted to mix it with your general waste - which is a big no! If this is the case, then arranging either one-off or semi-regular collections from a professional recycling service could be an efficient option to suit your needs.

For Businesses

As for businesses and other commercial organisations that generate high quantities of paper waste, then we strongly recommend utilising a professional recycling service - especially as there is currently more emphasis on sustainable paper-based packaging, with many companies now creating more waste paper recycling in their daily operations as a result.This will be cost-efficient for your business, ensuring an organised and streamlined recycling process for your company.

In relying solely on a local weekly collection, you will likely find yourself with excess waste paper and nowhere to store it, less you have overflowing bins or resort to mixing it with your general waste - both of which we’re sure you’d want to avoid.

Furthermore, they will often accept all grades of paper waste, maximising the amount of paper waste and cardboard that you can recycle whilst minimising waste that is sent to landfill, ensuring that your business is playing its part to be eco-friendly whilst benefiting from a comprehensive and efficient waste-collection arrangement.

Waste Paper Collection Services in Scotland

If you’re looking for an effective paper waste collection service in Scotland, then you can count on Highlander Security Shredding to suit your needs.

We like to consider ourselves paper and cardboard recycling experts, which is why we deal with all grades of paper waste so that we can find the best solution for you and your business. There is no minimum quantity for our collections, and we offer a flexible service at competitive prices.

We also offer secure document shredding services, which is especially beneficial for businesses that need to dispose of documents with sensitive information on.

For more details about the services we offer or to receive your free recycling quote, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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