Resolute Forest Products manufactures approximately 30 different grades of paper with recycled content. Two of our newsprint mills, Thorold (Ontario) and Mokpo (South Korea) use 100% recycled furnish. In addition, our mills in Augusta (Georgia) and Calhoun (Tennessee) have de-inking facilities and produce paper with recycled content. We are also the only producer of air-dried recycled bleached kraft pulp in North America (Fairmont, West Virginia, and Menominee, Michigan).
- 12.5% of Resolute's fiber supply comes from recovered fiber, including old newspapers (ONP), sorted office paper (SOP) and old magazines (OMG).
- In 2015, we used over 920,000 metric tons of recovered paper in our production processes, and the recycled fiber content in the newsprint we produced in total averaged 19%.
Balancing Virgin and Recycled Fiber
Wood fiber can theoretically be recycled up to seven times, but the fibers lose some of their strength with each round of recycling, becoming shorter and shorter until they can no longer be used to produce paper. Continuing input of virgin fiber is required to sustain the papermaking cycle.
A number of factors must be taken into consideration when assessing the appropriate blend and the product's environmental benefits:
- Raw materials ideally should be available near the mill in order to minimize transport requirements and the fossil fuel emissions inherent in truck or rail transportation.
- Production of recycled grades tends to be concentrated at facilities in or near urban areas with ready access to supplies of recovered paper, while grades requiring high levels of virgin fiber are produced at mills situated in more remote, less populous locations adjacent to forests.
- It takes water, energy and chemicals to remove ink and other matter from recovered fiber. Putting recovered fiber into higher brightness products, such as photocopy paper, results in greater fiber loss and impact on the environment. There is generally less environmental impact when recovered fiber is "down-cycled" into lower quality grades such as newsprint or boxboard.
Paper grade and intended end-use essentially dictate the basic fiber mix. Generally speaking, the higher the paper quality, the higher the level of virgin fiber required. The challenge is to come up with a fiber composition that will achieve the desired properties in terms of strength, opacity and brightness with the lowest possible environmental impact.
For more information on the efficient use of recovered fiber in paper, read our blog post, 3 Important Truths About Recycling Paper.