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The process of paper recycling from the Planet Ark Recycling Report

  • Old, used paper is collected from offices and homes. It is usually pre-sorted to ensure that only high quality paper is used. It arrives at the recycling plant in a large bale of shredded material.
  • The shredded paper is sent along a conveyor belt. it passes through a series of screening areas, where non-recyclable objects such as staples and paper clips are removed.
  • The paper is put into large mixers where water is added. The wet paper mixture smells and looks like paper-mache.
  • The wet pulp is sprayed onto a wire tray at a high speed, displacing the water. The water is saved and used again in the next batch.
  • The paper mulch, now semi-dry, is heated on large cylinders. The product is dried quickly and wound onto reels.
  • The paper is then coverted into tissues, paper products and toilet paper.

Note that this paper recycling process uses no bleaching products which is safer for the environment as chemicals aren't released into the river system as they are in other processes.

The benefits of using recycled toilet paper are based on saving the environment. As well as saving natural forests, wildlife is protected (the Otway Tiger Quoll became endangered whilst the Otways were being felled) and domestic water supplies remain clean. The average paper recycling plant reuses 12,000 to 14,000 tonnes of waste paper a year. According to Planet Ark, this is equivalent to two large semi-trailers of paper being processed every day, by each recycling plant. This saves native forests, which have been traditionally used to make paper products.

Kimberly-Clarke Australia, the leading toilet paper manufacturer, has come under fire from environmentalists for continuing to use virgin paper. In just three months in 1999, Kimberly-Clark used 24,000 tonnes of native wood for their products. They have only recently stopped using trees from the Otways, a native forest in Australia, and refuse to market a range of quality recycled toilet paper. Representatives claim there isn't a big enough demand for recycled toilet paper and that previous attempts to market the product have failed, but opponents argue that until major paper suppliers show initiative and market recycled paper the public won't accept the product.

Kimberly-Clark spokespeople claim that one of the main problems of paper recycling is the transport of paper products. They say that moving huge amounts of paper in semi-trailers does more damage to the environment than the positive results of recycling. Indeed, one of the main problems of recycling is geographic; smaller or isolated places, such as Tasmania (in Australia), are restricted by the amount of paper close by as it would cost a lot to import used paper.

In defence of Kimberly-Clark, their website states that for every tree they fell, they plant two. This is a common practice for paper manufacturers.

Recycled toilet paper is competitively priced, fits ordinary paper dispensers and feels just as good on your butt as "normal" paper. The following companies are suppliers of quality recycled toilet paper in Australia:

  • Cosco Pty Ltd - makers of Softex
  • Paper Converting Co- makers of SAFE (this is the oldest tissue manufacturer in Australia as it has been working since 1939)
  • Ausstissue - makers of Ocean Soft
  • Note:Kimberly-Clarke and Carter Holt Harvey are foreign owned

Say yes to recycled toilet paper!*

* If anyone ever asks "Recycled toilet paper: Yes or no?", that is.

Information from Otway Ranges Environment Network, Planet Ark and Kimberly-Clark sites

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