Recycling is not a waste of time

Aylesford processing plant has three recycling bays, each of which holds 3,000 tonnes of waste paper. Councillor John Allsop stands by one of the bays.
Aylesford processing plant has three recycling bays, each of which holds 3,000 tonnes of waste paper. Councillor John Allsop stands by one of the bays.
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Have you ever wondered what happens to the newspapers and magazines that you recycle at the kerb side or your local recycling bank?

Keen to answer this question, Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet member for technology and recycling, Cllr John Allsop, went on a trip to Kent to see where yesterday’s news gets turned into new paper 24 hours a day.

Aylesbury Newsprint Limited processes 10,000 tonnes of waste paper every week and it’s 330 staff are the people responsible for recycling much of Derbyshire’s waste paper.

Gemma Barratt, head of recycling at Ayelsford Newsprint, said: “We use 100 per cent recycled paper to produce newsprint here, so recycling really does benefit the environment.”

“With about a fifth of household rubbish being newspapers and magazines, you would need a forest the size of Wales to provide the amount of paper Britain uses each year.”

With that in mind, it’s clear that recycling is absolutely essential for the environment and wildlife of Britain.

However, it’s not just the forests that are spared. Using recycled materials to make paper actually uses less energy than producing paper from raw materials – even when you add all the associated costs like transport.

Cllr John Allsop said: “It’s amazing to think that the newspapers we buy have had previous lives as other newspapers and magazines.”

He added: “It’s good to see first-hand the difference recycling makes. This plant recycles 500,000 tonnes of paper every year and the idea of burying all that in landfill doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Around 100 vehicles bring discarded paper into the plant each day and contamination like plastic and glass is removed promptly by either machine or manually.

The recycled paper is then loaded on to a conveyor belt and taken to the fibre preparation plant where it is pulped at 55 degrees Celsius in warm soapy water.

The resulting pulp then heads into a machine where centrifugal force is used to remove any staples and paperclips before it is bleached with hydrogen peroxide. At this point our fresh paper is almost ready. The pulp is pressed, left to dry and polished between two rollers.

To ensure that nothing goes to waste, the ‘sludge’ that is left behind from the process is used as fuel for the on site power plant.