Analysis of the quality of the recovered paper from commingled collection systems

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The need to increase the recovery rates of recyclables from households, reducing at the same time the collection costs, has favored the spreading of commingled collection systems. This study presents a thorough analysis of the quality of a secondary source of recovered paper of a Spanish newsprint mill, imported from the United Kingdom, where these systems are widely practiced. The results show that the quality of recovered paper from commingled systems is very far from the quality obtained with selective systems: the unusable material content vary from 1% to 29% (11.9% on average) compared to less than 1%. Larger materials recovery facilities (MRF), less oversaturated and with advanced sorting techniques, have demonstrated to be able to render better qualities, the unusable material content varying from 0.3% to 16.6% (8.1% on average). However, the quality is still far from contamination levels typically found with selective systems, especially in terms of non-paper components. This fact limits significantly the use of this recovered paper for graphic paper production where the major potential for an extended use of recovered paper in papermaking lies. Furthermore, there is a discussion on the cost efficiency of these systems and how the legislation and private or public initiatives are affecting the spreading of these systems, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom.
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