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Paper Packaging Supplies: How They are Made and Recycled

Paper packaging supplies include various products ranging from cardboard and paperboard to rolls, bags, shredded, and more. Retailers and consumers favor them because they are made from a renewable resources and 70-90 percent of recycled paper. Paper is the most recycled material, by weight, in the U.S.

Have you ever wondered what the process is to make cardboard boxes that protect your goods during shipment? Or what the recycling process is so they can be reused and sent to your house as many as seven times before there is no more of the original paper in them?

Let’s Talk Trees

Every box, paper, or shred has its origin in trees. Boxes are made of two liners with distinct v-shaped fluting between. The outer layer is most often made of Kraft paper, which is smoother, more durable, and more water-resistant than the inner liner, called test paper. Both types of paper can be used for the inner fluting.

Kraft paper is made using trees that are considered softwood, such as pine, spruce, and fir, all of which have long fibers and greater resistance to tears or bursts. Test paper is usually made from recycled paper and hardwood trees and has shortened fibers.

The Process of Making Paper Packaging

The process of making paper packaging begins at a paper mill with wood pulp, which can be virgin (never used before), recycled paper from industrial and household consumers, or a combination of both.

Recycled paper products are reclaimed from households, industrial plants and factories, office buildings, grocery stores, and drop-off locations. This recovered paper is baled and sent to mills to be reclaimed and turned into pulp.

First, the pulp and/or recycled paper is put into a pulper that looks like a giant washing machine. It is then run through different cycles that clean and screen the pulp for any plastic, glass, or metal that made its way into the pulper.

The wood chips and recycled materials are either mechanically or chemically pulped, and both processes use water. Mechanical pulping uses a grindstone while the chemical process “cooks” the materials with the addition of chemicals to the watery mix.

From there, the cleaned pulp is pumped onto screens and goes through a process of removing water from the mix. This leaves the mill with paper or boards, depending on the product they are making, that can be rolled up or cut to desired dimensions.

The final steps turn the newly made paper into the desired products.

The Recycling Process

Most people think that anything made of paper can be recycled, but that isn’t true. Items with grease or food residue, such as pizza boxes, cannot be recycled and should be thrown in the garbage. This is because paper mills cannot separate oil from paper during their pulping process.

The paper that can be recycled includes chipboard— a single layer used to package items like cereal, K cups, shoes, and countless other products—and corrugated cardboard used to make boxes for shipping.

On the residential front, recycling is collected at the curbside on regular collection days. For commercial recycling, cardboard is usually compressed and baled or shredded.

Keeping Costs Down

In an industry that has seen the cost of paper rising sharply over the last couple of years and recently had another increase of 14 percent—the largest seen in a long time—recycling is critical.

Taking the time and effort to recycle so the mills can use that material helps to keep paper prices from rising even higher. The increases, which are expected to continue, reflect the increased demand by consumers for remote shopping combined with not having enough capacity at the papermills to produce the products as quickly as they are consumed.

When we all take the time and effort to recycle, it helps keep those materials out of landfills and in the hands of the paper mill operators who use them to keep the cycle of sustainability moving forward.


About Us

Pinnacle Packaging, Inc. offers our customers the best product selection fast delivery, all at great prices. We are proud to offer over 20,000 quality products from well-known and trusted brands like 3M, Sealed Air, Tape Logic, Rubbermaid, Ivex, and many more. Our mission is to be the single source answer to all our customers’ packaging needs.

Through the years we have established a reputation with our customers of providing fast, reliable, and professional service. Our high level of responsiveness to our customers’ needs keeps them coming back.