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The U.S. consumed more than 60 million tons of paper and paperboard in 1973, about 20 percent of which was recycled. Steel is the only product that is consumed in larger quantities than paper. The principal disincentives for paper recycling are: (1) the ready availability of virgin wood fibers, (2) lack of research on recycling of paper, (3) economics favor the use of virgin fibers, and (4) contaminants in wastepaper present major problems in recycling. In spite of the large amount of wastepaper that is available, a wastepaper shortage occurred in 1973 and has continued into 1974 because of problems in collection, fluctuation of the wastepaper market, and lack of manufacturing capacity. It is anticipated that about 32 million tons of paper and paperboard are available for recycling. About 130 pulp mills with a capacity of 600 tons per day would be needed to recycle this amount of wastepaper, which would produce about 24 million tons of recycled paper. The capital for building these mills is not available, and if a large number of secondary fiber mills were built immediately, it would create chaos in the virgin fiber industry. It is suggested that market pulp mills, located in or near large municipalities, be erected as needed to provide the need for more market pulp. This secondary pulp would be available to many mills that now are not equipped to process wastepaper.
conservation, reclamation, materials recovery, natural resources
Project leader, Institute for Materials Research, National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C.,