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Information on Paper Grades

OCI Paper Grades

Waste paper is classified in different ways that is country and sometimes even regionally dependent. In the USA, ISRI(Institute of scrap Recycling Industries) defines the specifications. In Europe, the governing standards body is BIR(Bureau of International Recycling). China uses the 1996 ISRI standards. Despite these facts, there are four general classes of waste paper that are recognized:
  • Pulp Substitutes -- Substances with similar characteristics to paper pulp that are used as a replacement for it fall into this category of waste paper. Substances of this nature include printing trimmings and lightly printed waste paper(such as notebook paper and ledger trimmings). Another substitute is poly-coated board(e.g. plastic board cartons that are plastic coated, plastic coated paper plates, and similar substances), which yields good pulp, but requires more work to make the pulp, as it needs to be made into pulp again before use.

  • De-Inking Grades

  • Brown Kraft Substitutes -- Waste such as Old Corrugated Containers(OCC) and Kraft Lined Strawboard(KLS), Kraft sacks, and any other corrugating plant waste all fall into this category. KLS is a type of OCC that is comprised of waste and less than 33% kraft linerboard. This paper grade is mainly used for test linerboard and fluting and contributes to recycled product strength because it contains pulp made of unbleached softwood. The strength is weakened by the presence of any recycled fiber, starch, and nonwood pulps and continues to decrease as the concentration of these increases by a proportionate amount.
    For water-proofing, some OCC is waxed and as a consequence, interfiber bonding is reduced, visible speckling occurs, and friction is reduced across the paper's surface. As a result of these factors, waxed OCC has traditionally been treated as an outthrow(i.e. a paper type deemed inappropriate for a certain paper grade) or considered to not be a viable recyclable material. Thermo Black Clawson and Inland Paperboard have given an estimated figure of 1 million tons of waxed OCC that plastic is predicted to supplant, as is presently happening in the Canada and Europe. In these countries, a method has been developed to process OCC that has 1% or less wax content called Xtrax. Most of the unsorted OCC in North America and Europe, have 0.7% and 0.3% of wax content, respectively.

    It has been estimated by Fortifiber that if all paper mills in North America were to stop using the wax-based coatings and to start to use the newly developed water-based, repulpapble coatings instead, it would allow 13-20% more OCC to be made recyclable. The reason for this figure is that 3-5% of OCC are wax coated and 10-15% of uncoated OCC is mixed with wax-coated OCC, making recycling efforts difficult or impossible.{Johnson, M. and Copeland, G. Repulpable barrier coatings to increase reclamed OCC. Corrugating International, July 1999, pg. 19}.

  • Mixed Waste Paper(MWP) -- This is the lowest and cheapest quality. This is the grade of paper that is left over when all other paper grades have been sorted out, and this includes even hosehold waste paper. Uses for this grade of paper include gray back folding boxboard and chipboard.

    Household waste, also known as residential mixed paper is quickly being discovered as another avenue of rescources. Currently, the United States only recovers about 20% of its 9 million ton production. The quality of waste paper is determined by the collection system employed. In the United States, when collected seperately, is composed of the following:

    • 30% Cartonboard

    • 30% White Grades and Mail

    • 25% Mechanical Paper(newsprint, magazines, coated and uncoated paper)

    • 15% Brown Kraft(brown bag and OCC)

    Residential mixed waste paper is often used as a replacement for medium quality OCC.{Moore, B. Is RMP set to provide a cheaper solution to OCC? Pulp and Paper International, April 1997, pg. 35}.

    Waste paper converted to paper grades in Europe in 1993(in millions of tons)*:

    (With Pulp Substitutes)
    Newsprint 0.1 - 3.6 - 3.7
    Other printing papers 0.3 0.3 0.7 0.4 1.7
    Containerboard 2.7 8.2 0.2 0.3 11.4
    Cartonboard 0.9 0.3 0.9 0.6 2.7
    Other Packaging 1.2 1.0 0.4 0.2 2.8
    Others 0.5 0.6 1.8 0.8 3.7
    Total 5.7 10.4 7.6 2.3 26.0

    * CEPI