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Instrumental research

Exploring recycling potential and recycling schemes in different settings

Paper recycling has a very long tradition. Looking into history where paper is said to be a product of spilled wood fibres one may even say that the real paper had never been discovered if not in the result of unintentional recycling. It is paper which has come to touch just about every aspect of our lives, from writing paper and books, to money, packaging and personal care products. Because of this, large amounts of our daily discards are made from paper, too. Incineration or landfilling of paper leads to the irreversible loss of a valuable resource which is almost completely recyclable. It is for these reasons why everywhere in the world collection and recycling of paper are taking place from small to large scale. Old paper can be considered as the most easy material to collect. Installing a successful paper collection can work as the prototype for an effective waste separation and recycling system. It is also one way to significantly reduce the amount of waste responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and self-ignition at landfills. The worldwide situation shows that there are still great reserves for improving paper collection and recycling.

Above considerations have delivered the background for a joint paper recycling research from the partners of the ISTEAC project. The research partners believed in that understanding better the recycling potentials and structures of paper collection in their countries would be a first step towards the development of a more appropriate recycling system and/or concepts to further enhance paper collection quality and quantities. A research concept was laying the ground for analytical studies into the local logistics for paper collection and recovery and provided all partners with a useful scheme to elaborate a complete picture on the volume and routes of paper fibres and the share recycling takes in this context. All partners produced reports about their findings on paper mass flow and recycling activities in their countries and presented them during the project summit meeting.

[Germany -> Summary report on the development of paper mass flow].

[Greece -> Research summary] [Philippines -> Research summary].

One of the complementary research items presented by TUD concerned the establishment of the potential and actual utilisation of paper waste, deriving from the fact that collection intensity and applied system leads to different recovered paper qualities and utilisation options. The topic had remained rather unexposed before and therefore showed to have big data deficits and knowledge gaps in Europe yet. Utilisation options for different recovered paper qualities has been one subject of outstanding interest for the project partners from Greece and Asia as paper collection in their countries wont for long achieve the same high standard like in Germany and other European countries [Research summary].