Waste paper suitable for recycling must be clean and uncontaminated by food or plastics. Paper can be recycled back into paper or into other products such as paperboard for packaging, tissues, toilet paper and fruit trays.

Making paper from waste paper instead of trees reduces energy use by 64%, reduces air and water pollution by up to 60%, and requires only half the water needed to make the product from virgin pulp. For every one tonne of paper recycled: At least 15 trees; 31, 780 litres of water; 2.5 barrels of oil; 4 cubic metres of landfill space, and 4100 kWh of electricity is conserved.

Paper ready to be recycled


Check your local council's website for the specifics for your kerbside recycling collections or drop-off points. Most kerbside collections accept paper and cardboard for recycling. Some councils require paper and cardboard to be separated.


Is your school or preschool signed up with the Paper 4 Trees Waste Minimisation Reward Programme? Divert paper and cardboard from landfill and get free trees in return.

Recycling Paper

Paper and cardboard is made from the pulped, pressed and dried out fibres of wood. Most paper products made in New Zealand come from renewable trees, grown specifically for paper. From planting to maturity, these trees take about 20 years to grow.

  • Wood chips are treated mechanically or chemically to release the fibres, resulting in a pulp.
  • Pulp is mixed with water to form a slurry.
  • Good screening ensures that contaminants such as plastic, staples and paper clips are removed.
  • The slurry passes over a series of meshes that separate the water, leaving fibre behind.
  • The damp fibres pass through rollers that flatten and dry it.
  • The paper is rolled onto huge reels, which can later be cut to the right size and shape.


Look at this

This video by Sappi gives a comprehensive overview of a commercial paper making process.

In contrast, this video shows paper made by hand at a factory in India. 


Major Environmental Effects

Production of paper from trees takes more than you think...

Making 1 kg of paper takes

  • 2.7 kg of wood chips
  • 130g of calcium carbonate
  • 85g sulphur
  • 40g chorine (to bleach)
  • 300 litres of water

Way back when.. the history of paper

The word paper comes from the Egyptian word papyrus, which is the reed from which paper was originally made over 2,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese also made paper, from rags and the bark of the mulberry tree. Until the Industrial Revolution, most paper was made from a mixture of linen rags, straw and grasses such as hemp. As demand for paper grew, along with mechanised paper-making machines, wood chips became the main source of fibre.