“Kraft, named for the German word 'kraft,' in reference to its high tensile strength, is a type of paper product produced using the kraft process (a chemical pulping method using sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide). Because of its high elasticity and tear resistance, kraft is widely used in packaging materials” (North Star Recycling). It is often used in a range of packaging products such as paper bags for cement, food, chemicals, and consumer goods like flour bags as well as paper grocery bags, envelopes, padded mailing envelopes, and more. Even the ever-popular corrugated cardboard (OCC) is simply made up of multiple layers of kraft paper. There are many uses for this durable and versatile paper product, but what do you do with it at the end of its usefulness?
Can Kraft be Recycled?
Thankfully kraft paper can be recycled. And while it cannot be mixed in with normal paper pulp, it can be recycled into new kraft paper that can be reused again. If you are a vendor or business owner and you use this paper in your packaging or another application, you have likely seen options for recycle-based kraft paper available from your vendors. Many people are not quite sure what the difference is other than one is recycled and one is not. In reality, they are both almost virtually similar with two main differences you will need to take into consideration. “Recycled kraft paper is slightly weaker than virgin kraft due to its recycled fiber content. Under most conditions, this is not a deterrent. But in certain applications where you need the toughest, most tear-resistant option available, virgin natural kraft paper would be the better choice. Recycled kraft paper tends to have a softer feel, and is, therefore, easier on your hands than virgin kraft. So that’s a consideration if you or your employees need to be handling the paper frequently” (Oren International). This means that for many uses, recycled kraft paper is just as good and can often be a better choice because it is cheaper. Recycled kraft is also better for the environment, it can attract environmentally-conscious customers, and it helps protect the environment and reduces waste!
Unfortunately, even though this paper product is easy to recycle it is not without its challenges. Contamination is the biggest obstacle facing recycling in general and it is especially troublesome here. Contamination in recycling terms refers to any kind of materials or compounds that are not recyclable get mixed into the recycling material and byproducts. For example, when recycling blended paper some food, dirt, glass, or plastic may get mixed into the paper pulp. “In the recycling sector, contamination can be grouped right into two classifications: outthrows and prohibitive materials. The main difference between them is that outthrows can be physically removed from the waste stream during processing, while prohibitive materials usually require chemical processing to be gotten rid of. These materials, when recycled, can harm recycling equipment or decrease the value as well as the quality of the material they are polluting” (iSustain).
Here at Central Kentucky Fiber Resources, LLC we are committed to making it safer, easier, and more effective to recycle paper products like this by improving education and outreach as well as working to improve the processes used in recycling today. Contact us today to learn more!