For the manufacture of paper , the paper industry uses mainly wood, although a good part of the raw material comes from recycled cardboard and paper . Therefore, for its production, forests are initially required, a source of cellulose, the raw material from which paper is made.
In fact, the role may be defined as a set of fibers of cellulose undergoing a complex process which first checks for conversion into pulp, from which manufacture adopting different final shapes.
The papermaking process
The trees contain a large amount of raw material in the form of long fibers, and therefore used to manufacture paper , although we can also use other plants such as flax, hemp or cotton same. It is precisely what was done in the past, using trees in a massive way in the middle of the 19th century.
First the separate fibers of cellulose , since they are interconnected or cohered by a substance called lignin, which acts on the other part as a glue. The separation of the fibers is carried out mechanically or chemically.
This is how it is possible to obtain a pulp that contains cellulose fibers, lignin and a lot of water, more than 97 or percent. To do certain jobs, the paste undergoes a superior bleaching process using chemicals to remove more lignin.
The elimination of water is carried out in a way that is as basic as it is efficient. Specifically, the water is eliminated while the dough is pressed between the rollers to finally obtain paper once the dough has been crushed, dried and different substances added depending on the type of paper to be obtained.
In short, after grinding and mixing the vegetable fibers with water , in short, it is how a thin sheet is obtained that is generally bleached and undergoes different processes depending on the final product. Currently, there are hundreds of types of paper.
Objective: improve sustainability
Sustainability is the great unfinished business of the paper industry , although in recent decades progress has been made. Sometimes it is done in an unplanned way, as is the case with the reduction in the use of paper thanks to the advancement of new information technologies.
If we just lived in the culture of paper, now things have changed. It is still ubiquitous in our daily lives, no doubt, but its use has been significantly reduced, while still being used for many other purposes. In global terms , the use of paper is growing, however.
With regard to the industries of the sector, progress is achieved thanks to the greater use of certified trees, as well as the purification of chemical products that in many cases end up being dumped into nearby rivers. Even so, there is still a long way to go.
On the other hand, the paper industry, today, to make paper and cardboard, increasingly use chips and sawdust from sawmills, as well as recycled paper and cardboard. In other words, the tree does not necessarily have to be cut down to obtain raw material from which to make the paper.
Still, most of the raw material comes from trees . Or what is the same, the paper is made of wood, no matter how hard it is to imagine. Although cellulose fiber is also obtained from used paper, even in these cases it is still recycled wood fiber, the transformation of which also carries an ecological footprint and, therefore, has an environmental impact.
Thus, whether recycled or virgin fiber is used is important, but it is also true that only by minimizing its use can we protect the planet in the best way. And not only that, because respecting the trees is no less important, avoiding their felling regardless of whether doing so is more or less sustainable.
Ecological vs recycled paper
When using paper we have to take into account that the differences between ecological and recycled paper exist, especially if we want to be green consumers . Not in vain, neither what is recycled is always ecological nor vice versa.
To better understand their difference, let’s look at the life cycle of each paper, specifically the aspects that most influence the environmental impact . Specifically, let’s look at the process that a product goes through from the beginning until it becomes waste and, if that is the case, it is recycled. It will be then when we discover that paper can have a more or less polluting life cycle.
It is easy to understand, therefore, that a more or less clean manufacturing, distribution and disposal or recycling process will lead to a greater or lesser level of sustainability. It will be these factors that, ultimately, will determine how ecological some or other types of paper could be.
The fact that it is recycled is just one more element to consider . In other words, eco-friendly paper is not always recycled and, of course, there may also be non-recycled paper that is even greener than recycled .
As consumers, the fact is that we have difficult, since we do not have information on about . Perhaps in the future, who knows, the world will advance in this sense, as activist experts predict.
For now, it is enough to know that recycling is not synonymous with ecological , although it will always help us to know that a recycled product also carries its corresponding ecological logo, as this will mean that it meets different sustainability requirements.
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