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Closing the Loop

Scrap Industry News

Recycling shredded paper was among the key topics at the 2006 Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show.

August 8, 2006
New mill specifications for shredded paper were among topics at the 2006 Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show, organized by the Recycling Today Media Group. The event was held June 25-27 in Chicago. Next year’s conference will be June 10-12, 2007, in Orlando.

The show was held in coordination with Recycling Today’s Plastics Recycling Conference, which will also be in Orlando next June.

As summarized at a session at the event, The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) and its Paper Stock Industries (PSI) Chapter have included a new grade known as No. 36 File Stock in its newest specifications circular.

Grade No. 36 is expected to often be a shredded grade produced by the document destruction process. It may include up to 4 percent prohibited materials and up to 10 percent of materials considered outthrows.

Prohibited materials can include metal paper clips and staples as well as plastics found in report covers and in other filing applications.

Outthrows can include carbon paper, photographs and pressure-sensitive labels such as mailing labels. According to Roy Geigel of Fox River Fiber Co., a Wisconsin producer of recycled-content pulp, the pressure-sensitive labels are the most commonly found outthrow in this grade.

Geigel served on the PSI subcommittee that helped define the No. 36 grade and he presented a summary of the new grade to Paper Recycling Conference attendees.

Ralph Simon of SP Recycling Corp., Atlanta, who has been involved in grade specifications oversight for many years, reviewed recent and proposed PSI changes for attendees.

According to Simon, a new grade to be known as Residential Mixed Paper (RMP) is working its way through the review process. The RMP grade as currently proposed would have a 2 percent prohibitives limit and a 10 percent outthrows limit.

As its name implies, the RMP grade would be generated primarily by municipal recycling programs that serve single-family homes and apartment buildings. It would often result from single-stream collection followed by mechanical sorting. "It is a grade that is, in fact, already being traded around the world," said Simon.

At the same PSI-sponsored session, Maite Quinn of Sprint Recycling in New York noted that residents in that city have become confused by the city’s temporary suspension of its container recycling program. "[Some] people thought recycling was over," she noted.

For a recycler such as Sprint that concentrates on buildings in Manhattan, Quinn says the challenge is that "every single building in New York City is like a separate city," with different programs in place and varying quality levels.

In the plastics programming, speakers presented information on a number of issues related to electronics recycling, including logistics, export issues and marketing plastics recovered from the devices.

Dan Barrett, manager of business planning with the United States Postal Service (USPS), said the organization has identified the opportunity to provide logistics services to facilitate electronics recycling.

While electronics reuse and recycling is preferable to landfilling, it also represents an opportunity for the USPS. "The right thing to do fits into our core business," Barrett said. The USPS is an ideal organization to handle the logistics of electronics recycling because it provides convenient retail access and drop-boxes and also because it makes daily deliveries, he added.

Among the products that the USPS is promoting to OEMs and electronics recyclers are merchandise return services like those used by many cell phone manufacturers, parcel return services and new low-cost options.

According to Barrett, the USPS is mobilizing "products that are easy to use and drive costs down for recyclers."

Timothy Osgood, director of corporate recycling for Intercon Solutions, an electronics dismantler based in Chicago Heights, Ill., focused his presentation on the recovery of plastics from electronics.

Intercon Solutions sends the plastics it recovers from its disassembly operation on to the composite lumber industry. Currently, Intercon pays its consumers to accept these materials.

Osgood said that plastics comprise 15 percent to 30 percent of electronics, adding that the percentage of plastic in these devices will increase as technology advances. Intercon receives nearly 250,000 pounds of material per week, 50,000 pounds of which are plastics, with ABS, HIPS and PPO being among the most common.

According to Osgood, hand demanufacturing of electronics allows for better grading and sorting of the constituent materials, and an electronics recycler’s ability to develop downstream relationships and end markets can determine the company’s success. He predicted that new opportunities will exist for the plastics generated.

Finally, Mark Matza, executive vice president of Fortune Plastics & Metals Midwest, Naperville, Ill., addressed export issues surrounding electronics.

Matza said that Fortune exports to China "because it is a preferable alternative to landfill." He also said that most manufacturing occurs in that nation and that the country’s manufacturers require raw materials.

He also advised attendees, "Beware the broker," adding that their only connection to the consumer is cash and that they are often pressured to buy and therefore tend to overpay for material. Additionally, brokers may not know what ultimately will happen to the material.

Currently, China does not accept printed circuit boards, computers, printers, keyboards, monitors and monitor glass, Matza said.

Matza also stressed that opportunities exist to remarket and reuse electronic devices, encouraging attendees to look at end-of-life electronics as they do used cars.

Additional coverage of both Recycling Today’s Plastics Recycling Conference & Trade Show and the Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show is available online at


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