Understanding Recycled Fiber

Glatfelter offers book papers, envelope papers, carbonless papers and tea bags made from recycled fibers.

By using recycled fibers such as abaca and post-consumer waste, Glatfelter is able to reuse materials, generate biomass electricity and reduce our environmental footprint. Since all production processes are in one location, fewer emissions and energy are consumed because less truckloads are used to transport materials. Implementing the downcycling process further adds to these benefits by using fewer chemicals, consuming less energy and producing less waste.

What is Recycled Fiber?

Where does recycled fiber come from?
Recycled fiber, an important source of pulp, comes from two primary sources: pre-consumer waste recovered from the manufacturing process and Post-Consumer Waste know as PCW. Sources of PCW fiber include old corrugated, mixed paper, old newspaper, high-grade de-inked paper and pulp substitutes recovered from the end user.

How is it used?
Recycled fiber fits into the pulp and paper manufacturing process in two directions—upcycling or downcycling. The direction of the cycling can have an impact not only on our environment, but also in the quality and expense of paper products.

Upcycling vs. Downcycling

What is upcycling?
Upcycling is the process by which waste materials are used to provide new, high quality products. Generally considered a reinvestment in the environment, upcycling allows for the reduction of waste and virgin material use.

What are the advantages of upcycling?
Using more energy and chemicals than the process of downcycling, upcycling advantages don’t pertain to papermaking. It wastes about 50% of the fiber when it is recycled and is not a smart reuse of products.

What is an example of upcycling?
Using nylon rice sacks or juice packs to make handbags or turning broken surfboards into asphalt filler is an example of smart upcycling.

What is downcycling?
Recycling material into a lesser quality product is known as downcycling. When materials are recycled for the correct, lesser use in the lifecycle process, product integrity at the top of the cycle is ensured.

What are the advantages of downcycling?
Downcycling benefits include less deinking chemicals and energy spent; lower costs for the end user, as a result of decreased production costs; and only 25% fiber waste, compared to upcycling.

What is an example of downcycling?
Recycling print papers or textbooks for use as newspaper or manila folders would be an example of proper downcycling.

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