Yesterday's News

July 3, 1998

By Michael Jessen

Newspapers are a daily source of information and entertainment for thousands of West Kootenay residents. But once read, they are "old news" and destined -- hopefully -- for the recycling bin.

They are printed on newsprint -- as are advertising inserts, flyers, newspaper supplements and telephone directories -- which is defined as "a grade of paper combining high percentages of groundwood and/or mechanical pulps made especially for the printing of newspapers."

Old newspapers (ONP) are collected from households, businesses, overissues at news-stands or overruns from the printing plant. Just how are newspapers recycled and what are they remade into? Let's follow the life of an old newspaper.

After being collected, ONP are taken to a sorting facility. Contamination during collection is a major problem. Newspapers should be dry and not mixed with other grades of paper, broken glass, food, or plastic bags.

The Paper Stock Institute of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a group representing waste dealers and brokers, publishes a listing of 51 standard grades and 33 specialty paper stock grades that they recognize for transactions in the U.S. and Canada. All paper is not alike! Paperstock Grade 6 (news) requires no more than 1% prohibitive materials and 5% total outthrows (non-newsprint paper). Grade 8 (special news deink quality) allows no prohibitive materials and no more than one quarter of 1% total outthrows.

After sorting, the ONP is either baled or shipped loose to a processor who mixes the ONP with water to produce a slurry. The pulp is moved through heavy cleaners and screens where any remaining contaminants like string, metal or plastic are removed. It then moves to primary flotation cells where air is injected into the water causing the ink to adhere to the bubbles. The inks rise to the surface and are skimmed off.

The pulp is screened again to enable more contaminants such as glue, staples and particles to be removed.. Hydrogen peroxide is used to whiten the pulp as it moves through the final cleaning process. In the post flotation cells, any remaining ink is removed. Presses form the pulp into sheets as some water is squeezed out. After cutters cut the sheets to size, they are baled in approximately 300 kilogram bales, over half of which is still water. The bales are loaded into railcars and trucks and shipped to paper mills.

The only newspaper processing mill in BC is Newstech Recycling, located in Coquitlam. This mill uses ONP for the manufacture of pulp which is used to produce new newsprint, telephone directory paper and other grades by Fletcher Challenge and MacMillan Bloedel.

Including Newstech, Canada has 15 de-inking mills. Combined these mills consume 1.5 million tonnes of old newspapers annually. If every piece of newsprint in Canada was recycled, it still wouldn't be enough to supply the mills' needs. Consequently, newsprint is imported from the U.S.

The largest market for ONP is the recycled newsprint industry. The next largest is recycled paperboard mills like Crown Packaging which produce boxboard packaging used for cereal, shoes and other types of packaging. ONP is also exported, primarily to linerboard mills in the Pacific Rim. These mills manufacture the middles layer for cardboard boxes, cellulose insulation and animal bedding.

Just how many local newspapers are distributed in the West Kootenay every week? Including the Arrow Lakes News, Castlegar Sun, Creston Advance, Express, Nelson Daily News, Pennywise, and Trail Daily Times, 100,400 copies roll off the presses each week. And that doesn't include the Mainstreet, Nelson Village Voice, Salmo Valley Newsletter, Valley Voice or non-local newspapers which are also printed on newsprint.

By ensuring your old news is recycled, you can give your paper many new lives.

TRASH TIP - 100,000 tonnes of newspapers are generated annually in BC; only 65 percent are currently recovered. One ton of recycled paper provides the equivalent in paper products of 17 to 30 trees.

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